By many accounts, organic Brussels sprouts are one of the more difficult vegetable crops to grow organically during the summer months because of high bug pressure. Yet Lakeside Organic Gardens, Watsonville, CA, does have a summer program and is reaping the benefits as there is very little competition in the marketplace.
Lakeside Sales Manager Brian Peixoto said his company’s 10-pound Brussels sprouts was selling for $30 f.o.b. as July was ending.
Brian Peixoto, manager, Lakeside Organics
Marliese McWherter, creative marketing manager for the exclusively organic grower/shipper, told OPN Connect in mid-July that the company’s organic Brussels sprout program was underway and yielding very good results. “Pricing is good, and supply is not overabundant,” she said. “Our quality and sizing are spot on - about the size of a quarter. Due to our prime coastal climate and planting of insectary plants, we are seeing minimal aphid pressure.”
She added that insectary planting increases the abundance and effectiveness of natural enemies that help suppress pest populations. “The flowers -- purple coneflower, California poppies, and sweet alyssum, to name a few -- attract a variety of beneficial predators controlling pests such as aphids.”
She confirmed that the use of pest mitigation practices in some form is a necessity, noting that due to aphid pressure growing Brussels sprouts is one of the hardest crops to grow organically.
Echoing that sentiment was Darrell Beyer, organic manager for Boskovich Farms in Oxnard, CA. “I don’t have a summer Brussel sprouts program,” he said. “I can’t find any farmer crazy enough to plant Brussel sprouts among all these summer bugs.”
Marliese McWherter, creative marketing manager, Lakeside Organic
Beyer said his entire organic vegetable program takes somewhat of a hiatus in the summer both because of bugs and regional/local organic deals around the country that typically created a downward pressure on organic vegetable f.o.b. He is not anticipating having organic Brussels sprouts on his sales sheet again until October.
Matt Stocks, the organic buyer for Melissa’s Produce, Los Angeles, which does offer a 16-ounce, value-added organic Brussels sprouts bag, said current supplies are tight with a strong market. But he noted that is typically the situation at this time of year. With regards to current conditions on supply and pricing, he said “we are looking pretty normal, if not great on both.”
The Melissa’s buyer revealed that “organic Brussels sprouts out of Mexico are gapping until the new crop in November…reason: too hot and bug pressures.”
Stocks said it has been a relatively tough year for organic Brussel sprouts. “In the organic world, most of the time there is a supply vs demand issue and as we all know, the price increases as the supplies become limited,” he said. “This is no different than when Covid-19 first hit. If you recall, Covid hit just after we had a major rainstorm and were in a transition from Mexico crops going out and California crops a couple weeks from harvest. Add all that up and throw pandemic buying in the mix and you have no product and extremely high pricing,” he said of the situation with organic Brussel sprouts this spring.
McWherter of Lakeside explained the current organic marketing situation for the item as such: “We are still seeing the increased demand with consumers cooking at home. Because organic Brussels sprouts are difficult to grow, we expect the performance and demand to be solid.”