- Company increases crop set with new premium snacking tomato varieties.
- In an effort to treble the number of farms in 2022, the company announced the planting of 360,000 tomato plants at a new 60-acre Richmond, Kentucky, farm.
With commercial shipments of tomatoes from its 60-acre high-tech indoor farm in Morehead, Kentucky, AppHarvest, Inc. (NASDAQ: APPH, APPHW), announced that it has started the third season of harvesting ahead of schedule.
An AppHarvest board member named Martha Stewart presided over a news conference for the organization’s first tomato harvest in January 2021. Since then, the business has opened two more high-tech indoor farms: a 30-acre farm for strawberries and cucumbers in Somerset, Kentucky, and a 15-acre farm for salad greens in Berea, Kentucky. Through its distributor, Mastronardi Produce, both of these farms are currently shipping produce to renowned national grocery store chains, restaurants, and food service outlets. Nearly 1 million strawberry plants are used by AppHarvest to produce strawberries for the “WOW® Berries” brand as well as a variety of salad greens for the “Queen of Greens®” washed-and-ready-to-eat salad packs.
In order to increase the number of farms it has near operation by 2022, AppHarvest is building a 60-acre tomato farm in Richmond, Kentucky, as its fourth site. Half of the Richmond farm has been planted with 360,000 “Tomatoes on the Vine” of the Campari and Maranice kinds, and harvesting is anticipated to begin in January 2023.
According to Jonathan Webb, founder and CEO of AppHarvest, “With the experience of two seasons of harvests, the Morehead farm is seeing significantly improved quality and yield, which is largely attributable to task completion rates of crop care specialists meeting and sometimes exceeding 100% of goal.” “We’re building a tenured staff and reaping the rewards of internal promotions to enable those who have developed the company alongside us from the bottom up boost efficiency and quality. With regular quality checks of crop care tasks, the AppHarvest team has continued to improve training and make it easier for quick retraining if necessary.”
The AppHarvest Morehead farm has added snacking tomatoes marketed as “Flavor Bombs®” and “Sugar Bombs®” under the Sunset brand for its third harvesting season. About 50% of the tomatoes grown in Morehead are beefsteak tomatoes, 25% are vine-grown tomatoes, and 25% are snack tomatoes.
The value of American fruit and vegetable imports reached a record high in 2021, and it has been predicted that this trend will continue in 2022, according to USDA statistics. Open-field farmers are finding it more challenging than ever to predict the length of their growing seasons and to have conditions that lead to a quality harvest due to changing weather patterns, which range from mega-drought in the Southwest of the United States to more frequent flooding to catastrophic wind events. Due to their capacity to reduce the risk associated with fruit and vegetable production by providing a year-round, more climate-resilient growing option that consumes much less resources, major food retailers are becoming more interested in high-tech indoor farms. Europe, a pioneer in the field, is thought to produce CEA on over 520,000 acres, as opposed to an estimated 6,000 acres in the United States.
Image provided by AppHarvest (NASDAQ:APPH)