Utah's roadside fruit and vegetables stands are doing a land office business this week as shoppers take advantage of farm-fresh produce that is selling in most cases for less than supermarket prices.
An early spring this year has pushed many orchard timetables up a week - especially in northern Utah - and apricot, raspberry and cherry harvests are nearly complete.Early varieties of sweet corn are being offered for sale at roadside markets from Brigham City, and nearby Willard and Perry, in the north to Utah County in the south. Prices for a dozen ears of sweet corn are about $1.50, but the price should drop to 75 cents as the season progresses.
Peaches should be available from the first of August through the middle of October, pears the last of August through the first of September, and apples the first of August through the first of November.
Quality of Utah fruits and vegetables is generally high, with some slight problems due to heat in first picked raspberries which might not be as big as they could be. Because of a spring frost, strawberries may be a bit higher priced than last year, farm experts say.
Stone fruit harvests in central and southern Utah are down sharply due to late spring snows and low temperatures, which resulted in poor pollination. Prices of some fruits may be slightly higher in some locations in southern and central Utah because of diminished supplies.
Fresh picked summer squash should be available at stands through the end of November, sweet corn through the first of October, tomatoes and peppers until the first of October, cantaloupes from September through mid-October, carrots and beets from mid-August through mid-November and grapes from now through the second week in October.
For many farmers, having a roadside stand is good business. They get better prices for their produce than they would if they sold it to supermarkets or brokers, and they can still afford to charge less than grocery store chains.
In many areas, fruit prices are considerably lower if customers are willing to pick their own fruit.
The Utah Farm Bureau Federation is expected to open farmers' markets this weekend at the Layton Mall in Davis County, and near the UFB headquarters at 54th South just west of I-15 in Salt Lake County. Another farmers' market will open in Orem in the latter part of August.