Growers meet spike in kale demand
YUMA, Ariz. – Kale is paving it’s way into the hearts of consumers and the fields of Yuma and Salinas growers. Industry experts explain kale has been heavily marketed to the public in recent years as a nutritious vegetable. But pretty much most veggies contain beneficial nutrients. All the same, the “kale fad” as some call it has taken off.
“We have seen a drastic increase in kale demands. And we have actually increased our kale acreage one hundred percent per year over the past three years. So three years ago we started with ten to fifteen acres, last year we had thirty and now we have sixty-five,” said Kale Raw Park Manager Keith Mallett.
Not only is kale beneficial to the public as a vitamin source, the way it’s harvested helps growers too. “Sustainability in farming, kale we can harvest six times throughout it’s life cycle. Six to eight times. In Salinas we can harvest ten time,” said Mallett.
The leaves are carefully plucked from the bottom up, while the top is left alone to continue growing. There are now 600 acres in Yuma County dedicated to kale. That sounds like a lot but when you compare it to lettuce, which is close to 40,000 acres, it pales in comparison. Nevertheless, growers have seen a spike in sales.
“And then all of a sudden they started cutting more, and more and then the next year, well we better plant a few more acres.Before we were even aware this craze was going on and through the winter we still have a hard time keeping up with the demand,” said Steve Alameda, grower of Top Flavors Farms.
And although it’s no lettuce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports double the farms across the nation are now harvesting kale, with California as the kale capital.