Maybe you’ve grabbed a pickle-in-a-pouch for a midday snack, but have you ever thought about where it started? Van Holten’s Pickles in Waterloo works with farmers growing a unique crop. As demand for pickles has increased, they’ve grown the area where their cucumbers come from. Bruce Dorn, Operations Manager shares more.
The cucumber growing season may be coming to a close but pickle making is a year round endeavor at Van Holten’s in Waterloo, Wisconsin. If you’ve ever driven past, you may have seen huge green vats outside of Van Holten’s Pickles. Each one of those tanks holds an entire semi load of cucumbers and many of those cukes came from Wisconsin farms. Inside those vats you’ll find over five hundred and eighty five thousand bushels of pickles fermenting and being stored year round.
While backyard gardeners may pick cucumbers for weeks at a time, mechanical harvesting on commercial cucumber farms results in a wide variety of cucumber sizes. Since most cucumber buyers only purchase specific sized vegetables, farmers are able to grow their crop for multiple processors and use on farm size sorting to get the right size crop to their buyers.
Bruce shares that farmers growing cucumbers have changed how they manage their soil nitrogen levels to make a plant that grows less leaves and more cucumbers. He also talks about how the industry as a whole has seen increased demand, in part thanks to social media.