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-   -   Our Local Produce Auction (http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=42413)

Ricky Shaw August 3, 2016 08:51 AM

Hobbyist's drag down the local auctions, that's what cattlemen say here. Same deal for dirt farmers I'd imagine, competing against people who don't need the money so much as the tax diversion.

BigVanVader August 3, 2016 08:53 AM

Being someone just now getting into the whole growing fro profit thing I have to say it is a little disheartening to see 10# boxes of tomatoes go for 8$, and last year there was such a huge influx of tomatoes from NC that the farmers stopped picking tomatoes to sell because the price was down so low.

I can certainly see why it is more appealing to just do re-sale since you would likely make more than if you grew and sold it anyway. There doesn't seem to ever be organic produce at the auctions though since it cant compete with pricing of conventional.

Hellmans it looks like you just grew red hybrids? I saw in one post you said you made millions selling produce. Care to explain how? I really enjoy growing and would like to do it full time but I'd need to make a lot more money for that to be reality.

tash11 August 3, 2016 09:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BigVanVader (Post 583906)
...
I can certainly see why it is more appealing to just do re-sale since you would likely make more than if you grew and sold it anyway. There doesn't seem to ever be organic produce at the auctions though since it cant compete with pricing of conventional.
....


There are a TON of resellers here. One just built a sales 'barn' on a busy road going into a richer area. Don't know how they will do as that richer area is known to be cheapskates. They have a good image with the 'barn' and some pumpkins growing in the acre next to it. All their FB posts on the local groups focus on 'local'. But their pics look exactly the same as the auction.
The local apple orchards buy their squash and flowers from the auctions too.
And I have seen at least one person at the farmers market in town not even take things out of the peck boxes they got at auction. Most farmers markets have rules about no reselling.

I do see organic or chem free at our auction sometimes. Because of the spots though it goes for next to nothing. Like the 8 pecks of apples I got last year for $2 a peck because they had some flyspeck on them. Tasty though. Probably from someones backyard tree that they just ignore until harvest.

There used to be an organic you pick apple farm near me. But they stopped doing that and focus only on cider now because of the appearance issue. Apparently people really do care about spots on their apples.....

Hellmanns August 3, 2016 10:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BigVanVader (Post 583906)
Being someone just now getting into the whole growing fro profit thing I have to say it is a little disheartening to see 10# boxes of tomatoes go for 8$, and last year there was such a huge influx of tomatoes from NC that the farmers stopped picking tomatoes to sell because the price was down so low.

I can certainly see why it is more appealing to just do re-sale since you would likely make more than if you grew and sold it anyway. There doesn't seem to ever be organic produce at the auctions though since it cant compete with pricing of conventional.

Hellmans it looks like you just grew red hybrids? I saw in one post you said you made millions selling produce. Care to explain how? I really enjoy growing and would like to do it full time but I'd need to make a lot more money for that to be reality.

The millions was sarcasm, I thought the emoji spoke for that. Sorry.

I grew 2 high quality red hybrids for the bulk of my sales, and a bicolor to round it out. I also learned to avoid having peak production this time of year. I started growing in a tunnel about 30 years ago, and would have a crop that commanded top dollar because no one else had any. I would also plant a main crop to mature about the time everyone else's was ending. Those two things along with paying strict attention to quality helped more than anything to turn a profit.

The two hybrids I grew were the best I could find in regards to flavor, and productivity, and I became very familiar with them to get maximum production of high quality fruit. I always picked vine ripe fruit too, and learned to handle it to keep it perfect.

BigVanVader August 3, 2016 11:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hellmanns (Post 583920)
The millions was sarcasm, I thought the emoji spoke for that. Sorry.

I grew 2 high quality red hybrids for the bulk of my sales, and a bicolor to round it out. I also learned to avoid having peak production this time of year. I started growing in a tunnel about 30 years ago, and would have a crop that commanded top dollar because no one else had any. I would also plant a main crop to mature about the time everyone else's was ending. Those two things along with paying strict attention to quality helped more than anything to turn a profit.

The two hybrids I grew were the best I could find in regards to flavor, and productivity, and I became very familiar with them to get maximum production of high quality fruit. I always picked vine ripe fruit too, and learned to handle it to keep it perfect.

AKMark said the same thing about being first to market with tomatoes, and I was this year but not in the quantity needed. I saw you have Big Beef growing, I grew Big Beef this year in my little tunnel and the production is impressive but it seems everyone around here grows R&R hybrids so I could only make money from them as early crops. My goal is to grow heirlooms in tunnels organically AND be first to market. Growing under plastic makes it so much easier here in the land of constant rain/high humidity.

zipcode August 3, 2016 12:12 PM

I'm surprised anyone amateur can still be there first-ish to market. Looks like the commercial growers there are really lagging behind the times.
What I learned selling on ebay is: auction is risky and usually sells for a lot less. Of course, with stuff that goes bad if not sold it may be the only way sometimes.

BigVanVader August 3, 2016 01:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zipcode (Post 583946)
I'm surprised anyone amateur can still be there first-ish to market. Looks like the commercial growers there are really lagging behind the times.
What I learned selling on ebay is: auction is risky and usually sells for a lot less. Of course, with stuff that goes bad if not sold it may be the only way sometimes.

I was really surprised as well. Luckily it is a producer only market and none of the sellers grow in high tunnels. The high tunnel growers sell wholesale because they normally only grow a couple of crops and most actually only grow tomatoes or flowers since the most money is there. Plus we had late frost and I heard a few vendors lost all their early plants.

I used a combination of starting my plants in January and up potting till plant out then used reflective mulch and weekly fertilization to speed up ripening. It worked well and If I had a heated high tunnel I could likely be the first at that market by a month or more.

They were selling tomatoes at a nearby produce auction long before I was, but resell isnt allowed at my market and the vendors get really pi$$ed if anyone tries to cheat. It helps that some of the smaller growers are on the board and will make farm visits anytime they get complaints or something seems awry.

Cole_Robbie August 3, 2016 03:02 PM

Reselling isn't supposed to be allowed at my market, but exceptions are made, off the record, to resellers who are not competing with members. For example, a few years ago, after a very cold and wet May, someone had a truckload of sweet corn on Memorial Day weekend. The field corn was knee-high at best by that point. The idea of local sweet corn existing was a complete joke to anyone who has ever grown it. Asking the sellers where it was grown was funny. "Cairo, " they said. uh-huh, maybe that's where the corn crossed into Illinois.

I asked my grandpa about it. He said they let them in that weekend because no one else had sweet corn, and it was good for the market that they were there.

I wish I could get demand for a late crop, but it just doesn't seem to be anything like the spring. People are sick of tomatoes.

And I'm familiar with the idea of finding the market for a product before you grow it. But buyers want to see what you are selling. I'm not going to be able to get a produce manager at a grocery store to commit to buying something I don't have...next year. They don't know if a product is any good, or even that I will be able to grow it, based upon words alone. So it's a chicken and egg problem. Which comes first, the buyer or the product? It's hard to sell it until you have it, but that's the opposite of the 'find a market first' advice.

PureHarvest August 3, 2016 04:53 PM

I hear you loud and clear Cole. I meant dropping big money on equipment, gear, or land, and planting like a couple of acres your first year without working out the harvest and distribution a market.
By all means, grow what you intend to sell on a trial scale and take a sample box to those you want to sell to. Then ramp up accordingly.
I can't imagine showing up to get someone's business with a brochure or business card and the offer to supply a year from now.
And if they say, "I'll take 15 boxes a week", tell them you already have commitments for this year's crop but are expanding to serve them next year.

PureHarvest August 3, 2016 05:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hellmanns (Post 583920)
The millions was sarcasm, I thought the emoji spoke for that. Sorry.

I grew 2 high quality red hybrids for the bulk of my sales, and a bicolor to round it out. I also learned to avoid having peak production this time of year. I started growing in a tunnel about 30 years ago, and would have a crop that commanded top dollar because no one else had any. I would also plant a main crop to mature about the time everyone else's was ending. Those two things along with paying strict attention to quality helped more than anything to turn a profit.

This is exactly what I have concluded after this season so far!
You are absolutely correct Hellmanns.

Growing one long crop from early May to frost makes no sense for me.
I am gonna do a very early crop next year and set them into a heated high tunnel in Mid-February. Hope to harvest from May to mid-July. By the time the heat rolls around in late July, my next crop will be coming on in the vegetative stage. So no fruit to split, or blossoms to drop.
Combined together, I hope to yield more for the year from 2 crops than one long crop that has to struggle through the heat at some point with new blossoms or fruit load.
I also think I can get the premium on the early stuff. Nobody has local tomatoes in may or June here commercially.
My buyer will have to go elsewhere for late July to August, but that is fine, he's a broker and that's his job and he knows how to get product if need be. Plus, there are plenty of tomatoes around then.

Starlight August 3, 2016 05:17 PM

Curious.... What do you do at the auctions if nobody buys your stuff and you have all that produce in a box?

Are the veggie auctions like hard good ones where you set a min on your product that has to be met first?

Does anybody do CSA's anymore to take to market for pick up or have they gone out of style.

Hellmanns August 3, 2016 05:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Starlight (Post 584059)
Curious.... What do you do at the auctions if nobody buys your stuff and you have all that produce in a box?

Are the veggie auctions like hard good ones where you set a min on your product that has to be met first?

Does anybody do CSA's anymore to take to market for pick up or have they gone out of style.

You can set a minimum price, or refuse the high bid here, but I suggest not if you are trying to get established. I've seen people refuse a high bid before, then buyers wouldn't bid on their lots in the future.

Most of the people who refuse a bid are new growers who see high quality tomatoes bring a certain amount down the line. Then their not so good cracked tomatoes, or improperly graded boxes bring considerably less. So they refuse to accept. It's funny how some people are so proud of their tomatoes they actually can't see the difference in a good one, and their bruised fruit.

I've seen a bunch of folks get into growing tomatoes for profit over the years. One year is generally as long as they last.

Hellmanns August 3, 2016 06:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PureHarvest (Post 584055)
This is exactly what I have concluded after this season so far!
You are absolutely correct Hellmanns.

Growing one long crop from early May to frost makes no sense for me.
I am gonna do a very early crop next year and set them into a heated high tunnel in Mid-February. Hope to harvest from May to mid-July. By the time the heat rolls around in late July, my next crop will be coming on in the vegetative stage. So no fruit to split, or blossoms to drop.
Combined together, I hope to yield more for the year from 2 crops than one long crop that has to struggle through the heat at some point with new blossoms or fruit load.
I also think I can get the premium on the early stuff. Nobody has local tomatoes in may or June here commercially.
My buyer will have to go elsewhere for late July to August, but that is fine, he's a broker and that's his job and he knows how to get product if need be. Plus, there are plenty of tomatoes around then.

Be careful starting to early, even in a heated tunnel. You will have problems with fruit set. I have found here in zone 6, that mid March is ideal for a good set on first, and second clusters.

When I was growing for a living, mid March was when I always planted. Then depending on the season, I would get ripe fruit with Big Beef anywhere from mid June to early July.

PureHarvest August 3, 2016 07:25 PM

Understood.
I am right on the line of zone 7b so that was why I was considering mid February.
Did you seed early March or transplant early March?

Hellmanns August 3, 2016 08:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PureHarvest (Post 584090)
Understood.
I am right on the line of zone 7b so that was why I was considering mid February.
Did you seed early March or transplant early March?

I always seeded January to early February, and planted mid March. Some years I would still lose the first set, but the second and third clusters would make up for it.


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