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Jamie Graiff looking forward to New Jersey’s fall season

newfield, nj — A hot summer can take its toll on crops anywhere. New Jersey has certainly been in that category this year, at least as of mid-August.

“Between the heat waves and the heavy storms, it wasn’t the best growing season because of the inconsistencies,” Jamie Graiff of Dan Graiff Farms told The Produce News on a hot Tuesday morning, Aug. 14.

“Volume was hurt — we lost a good bit early in the summer,” he added. “Quality was affected because of the high humidity and heat. Weather was the biggest hurdle this year.”

Graiff5707Jamie Graiff (center) with his nephews, Scott Graiff and DJ Graiff, of Dan Graiff Farms.Looking ahead a few weeks, he said, “I think the heat is going to delay the planting of some items.” For example, “I think the spinach planting will be delayed by a week to 10 days.”

But he quickly added, “If we get a nice cool fall, it will definitely increase the volume and quality of all the items.”

Whenever the fall season gets under way in the Garden State, the major items at Dan Graiff Farms will be similar to those in previous years, such as spinach, wild arugula, mixed greens and baby kale.

“I think we’re going to play around with some baby red and green dandelion,” said Graiff. “That would be the first time we try dandelion.”

The fall season is important to many companies in New Jersey, including Dan Graiff Farms. As Jamie Graiff put it, “The longer we go in the fall, the more it protects our transition period from the other areas we use. If we have a good fall,” running to early or mid-November, “it gets us into the items from other parts of the country.”

He noted that since around 2009, the company has worked with growers in areas such as Florida, Holtville, CA, and Yuma, AZ.

Everything that’s grown by Dan Graiff Farms is packed for retail and foodservice distribution.

The family traces its agricultural roots back four generations in the south Jersey area. Dan Graiff Farms was founded in 1980 by the parents of Jamie, 55, and his older brother, Dan. And over time, the company evolved into a grower, processor and shipper located here near Vineland.

Unfortunately, the company has been dealing with a recent personal loss, as Dan Graiff died on June 23. Dan’s youngest son, DJ, joined the company back around mid-May, and will be going into sales. DJ, 25, joins his older brother, Scott, 28, who has been working at the company for about 10 years, noted Jamie, who concluded, “They continue their father’s legacy at the company.”