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Archive for January, 2015

California Avocados Starting Up

We are just starting to see organic California Hass avocados on the scene. The season starts in January/February in San Diego and works its way north as each area of California finishes their harvest and another area begins.  The beginning of the year is when the California Hass avo must pass the minimum allowed level of oil content before being picked. This is no way means that the flavor is good nor does it represent the California Hass we have grown to love and appreciate over the year.

The trees are full of fruit and in order to continue to size and produce, the tree needs to be relieved of their burden of fruit to make room for the next more flavorful picking.  The oil content will develop as they mature with each harvest.  For example, Hass avocados from San Diego will taste the best earliest in the year, think April/May.  As the months go on avocados from the central coast and even farther north will develop the high oil content and flavor we expect from a California avocado.

Avocado hass

Hass Avocado

Buyer Beware!

The cycle of maturation, no matter where avocados are grown in the world, means the early crop can have irregular ripening, rubbery texture, low oil and very little flavor. We will have a small quantity of California Hass available now but if you are picking for flavor we recommend the Mexican Hass avocado.

If you are committed to buying a California piece of fruit there are other varieties in season not to be missed. This is not a comprehensive list but are some of our favorites in season now.

BaconOval shaped with shiny thin skin and a light flavored yellow-green flesh. They are easy to peel and the perfect complement to a citrus salad.

Fuerte– Used to be the most popular avocado in the 1950’s. The medium sized pear shaped fruit is easy to peel and has smooth green skin that stays green after ripening.  The flesh is a creamy pale green with a light smooth taste that goes well with salads. Think spring mix, fennel and grapefruit.

Zutano The earliest winter variety. Pear shaped with shiny, yellow-green skin and light tasting flesh. Try cubing it and adding it to tortilla soup on a cold winter night.

Zutano Avocado

Zutano Avocado

Other varieties you may see throughout the year are the Reed and Pinkerton.

Future blogs include understanding how to buy a better tasting avocado by making choices based on seasonality and geography.  Each year the timing is different and we will explore how extreme weather can have a major impact on ripening and availability. Continue to follow our blogs as a new year of the California Hass avocado unfolds.

Winter Citrus

Bell shaped minneolas, Page Mandarin, Clementine and Fremont Mandarin are just a few of the winter citrus varieties.

The Minneola tangelo is a cross between a Duncan grapefruit and a Dancy tangerine.  They have thin reddish orange skin that is easy to peel and the shape is like a bell.  The fruit combines the sweetness of the mandarin with the tart flavors of the grapefruit, and it is highly prized for its juiciness and combination of sweet/sour flavors.

 

Minneola, Page, Clementine and Fremont smaller

Cold Snap Hits Agricultural Areas Hard

We have passed through the shortest days of the year which meant less sun, slowing down the growth of everything. A severe cold snap is now affecting most of the agricultural areas in California, Arizona and Northern Mexico hindering the growth and harvest of all produce.  Plants can be severely damaged if harvested before they thaw out so growers will need to wait to harvest until late morning losing precious harvesting hours. Where a grower might typically start harvesting at 6am, they are having to wait until 10am when the weather has warmed up. We can expect availability to be tight, prices to go up and to see quality defects on leafy items. Though it is going to slowly warm up there are some long term effects worth consideration:

Prices will continue to stay high until the supply side stabilizes. The thing to remember is that most of the US is pulling produce from the same area that we do at this point in the season. Demand is great – supply isn’t.  To see one of the last true examples of a supply and demand economic model look no further than the fruit and veg industry. There are no price supports, no subsidies and you can charge as little as you want or as much as you want. It either sells or it doesn’t so to speak.  Organics is a smaller industry so prices are even more reactive in a time like this. We can expect to see high prices for at least a few more weeks on all cool season wet veg.  Warm weather crops will also be high but because many of these are greenhouse/hothouse grown the supply side has not been affected as much as the field grown crops.

Price and quality do not track side by side. Often higher prices reflect difficult growing conditions and veg has more cosmetic challenges than we are used to. Most vegetables are comprised mainly of water and water expands when it freezes causing various types of defects. Epidural peel occurs when the outer layer of the leaf freezes, partially dies and then begins to peel. The leaf will have a translucent look. Tip burn happens when the leaf cells break down from extreme temperature causing the outer edges of the leaves to turn black. Cracking can be seen along the stem or ribs and slight frost damage is noticeable on outside leaves.  Blistering causing the epidermis on the outside leaves to begin to fall apart.

Planting, transplanting and germination of seeds can be very hard or delayed when the ground becomes real cold or freezes.  Down the line in about 40-60 days we will start to see the gaps in supply caused by the planting challenges of today.

Continue to check our posts and social media sites for updates. In the meantime bundle up and stay warm!

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