As demand for Oregon parsnips continues to stay regular, supply for the white root vegetable proved surprisingly lower this past season. “We’re out of parsnips and the other grower around here is running to the end of their season,” says Jason Montecucco of Canby, Ore.-based Montecucco Farms, who notes that from hereon in, the Arizona parsnip season really begins.
In Oregon, harvesting begins at the end of July or the beginning of August and runs until the middle to end of March. And while the western Oregon climate that Montecucco is located in is cool during the winter months, it’s not so cold that the ground freezes, allowing the farm to pick parsnips fresh daily rather than run off storage. That cool weather also produces a slightly different parsnip. “It converts the parsnips’ starches to sugar to produce a really sweet parsnip,” says Montecucco.
The weather effect
“Yield of those parsnips was down because of excessive amounts of rain,” says Montecucco. “We just had too much rain here. I think it was one of the wettest winters in the history of the northwest - in Oregon anyways. We just had a lot more culls than we normally do. On yield, we were probably down 20 percent because of culls.”
In addition, he adds that Montecucco planted less acreage because last spring’s weather brought plenty of rain making for a challenging environment to plant in. “The quality of parsnips was good but the weather was really poor for maintaining them in the field,” he says.
Not surprisingly, pricing was affected as well. “Pricing was steady but it’s gone down from what it was last year,” says Montecucco. “Demand isn’t through the roof but it’s just a steady deal.”