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Horseradish Business Needs More Growers
In the early 1930’s, Harry and Lena Tulkoff started a small grocery where they ground fresh horseradish for customers. Now, 90 years later, the business is still going strong under the leadership of their grandson Phil Tulkoff. In fact, thanks to previous careers in engineering and computer consulting, Phil has expanded the company to include co-packaging for a number of popular grocery brands. Many of the copacked items include non-horseradish products such as mayonaise, garlic spread, BBQ sauce and bloody mary mix.
Sourcing horseradish from dependable contract growers is a key part of the business. Phil says growing horseradish is labor-intensive and a challenge because equipment for growing, harvesting and processing horseradish doesn’t exist. As a result, the industry has had to modify machines used to grow and process other crops such as potatoes and sugar beets.
“Some growers use modified potato diggers to harvest the root, which can grow to 3 ft. long. In our plant, the washer we use for cleaning roots was adapted from machines used to de-stone potatoes and clean sugar beets,” Phil says.
Tulkoff processes about a half-million pounds of horseradish per month at its Baltimore plant. Historically, most of the roots have come from contract growers in Illinois, but recent excess moisture in the Midwest has reduced supply, so the company is looking for additional growers, ideally in the East Coast states of Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and Delaware. “Shipping costs from the farm to our plant will be reduced if we can find dependable growers in these states,” he says.
Harvested horseradish is shipped by growers to the Baltimore plant in stretch-wrapped “cubes” placed on pallets in refrigerated trucks. It’s stored in freezers maintained at 28°F and then washed before being processed.
Phil says “one appeal of growing horseradish is that the income/acre can be considerably higher than that from corn, soybeans or other commodity crops. “We pay about 50 cents a pound for root and an average yield is 8,000 pounds an acre, so gross revenue can be $4,000 an acre. And that price stays pretty steady year-to-year, and will most likely increase gradually.”
The company is seeking growers who can supply at least 250,000 pounds of root per year. “One approach that may appeal to some growers is to join forces and share equipment,” Phil says. Prospective growers can get more information by contacting Phil at: ptulkoff@tulkoff.com.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tulkoff Food Products, 2229 Van Deman Street, Baltimore, Md. 21224 (ph 800 638-7343; www.tulkoff.com).

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2020 - Volume #44, Issue #4