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Extreme Heat Wave Hits California

A heat wave continues to sweep through California this week with temperatures reaching well over 100 degrees in many growing regions.  Some summer fruits such as watermelon, tomatoes and melons like the heat but if it gets past 110 degrees for an extended period of time, the plants become stressed, interrupting its production cycle and preventing necessary nutrients from reaching the plant. Hot days not only affect the food we eat but the people harvesting our food. Workers are being sent home before noon because it is too hot to be in the field picking.  Hot days and less hours to pick will affect supply and quality across various commodities.

Watermelons out of Bakersfield will be tight, sweet baby broccoli is limited, heirlooms and cherry tomatoes out of Yolo County are slowly trickling in but expected to ramp up next week when the weather begins to cool down a bit. Expect to see a little sunburn on some lettuce varieties. Romaine and butter will show the worst damage with browning around the top of the leaves. Stone Fruit grower Richard Burkart from Burkart Organics walked his orchards this morning and noticed that the yellow nectarines he planned on picking had stopped ripening. The outlandish heat of 108 degrees has caused the trees to shut down due to the extreme heat as a survival/preservation response. He hasn’t seen an event like this in years. He does expect to pick over the weekend when the temps go down a bit. Stay tuned for updates.


Spring Bright Burkart Yellow Nectarines (1)

Earl’s Produce Buyer’s Notes Week of June 19th

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Summer Solstice

Today is the first day of summer, also called the summer solstice and the longest day of the year.  The Sun is directly overhead at its most northern point at “high-noon” on the summer solstice, creating more sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere on this day than any other, resulting in more growing hours of sunlight for plants. Summer solstice also marks a turning point and from now until winter solstice, the days will gradually begin to get shorter and the nights longer.  After the winter solstice the days will gradually begin to get longer and the nights shorter until the cycle starts again in June.

The length of days and nights from season to season affects the way many plants grow and what they do throughout the year. Plants are able to measure hours of darkness and how much cold or chill hours they have experienced, causing a plant to bloom, drop its leaves or experience new growth. Plants experience peaks of growth throughout the year depending on the weather and the number of daylight hours.  We use the Earth’s movement around the sun to develop planting calendars that help us determine which crops to plant at what time of year, the geography they grow best in and at what temperature. Some summer fruits that benefit from long hours of heat are stone fruit, melons and heirloom tomatoes.

Tutti cherokee 2009 resized

Earl’s Organic and Crespo Bring Mango Mania to Northern California

June 15th, 2017 - Earl's Organic & Crespo Organic Summer Mango Mania

Earl’s Produce Buyer’s Notes Week of June 13th

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Earl’s Produce Buyer’s Notes Week of June 5th

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The Coveted Blenheim Apricot is Disappearing

Blenheim apricots are the most coveted of the apricot varieties and are fast disappearing. They were brought to California from England in the 1880’s and were grown mostly in the Sacramento and Santa Clara valleys. They have great apricot flavor but are not good travelers and are usually only found at farmers markets. Many growers have abandoned the Blenheim in favor of varieties that are grown for their long shelf life and ability to travel long distances.  There are only a few growers left in California and Earl’s is fortunate to now be carrying Dwelley Blenheim apricots, a third generation farm, from Brentwood, California.

This small sized heirloom variety has a beautiful rose blush over a golden background. One of the key characteristics of the Blenheim is their green shoulders. Don’t shy away from the green tinge, as the fruit will have good flavor even if the fruit does not achieve full color.  Cut open the Blenheim and you are rewarded by a deep orange flesh.  A quick bite reveals a tangy flavor that is balanced out by the high sugar content.

Dwelley Blenheim Apricots (1)

Stone Fruit will taste sweeter at the bottom of the fruit because the sugars become more concentrated as they grow to maturity hanging straight down from the tree.

How to choose a Blenheim Apricot:

Apricots ripen from the inside out, similar to a pear. Test the ripeness by applying gentle pressure with the pads of your fingers. If the fruit gives slightly it is ready to eat. Blenheim apricots are very delicate and bruise easily so be sure to handle them with care.

Please join us in supporting the California growers that are keeping this wonderful variety alive. The Blenheim Apricot is on the Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, foods facing extinction. Take this opportunity to enjoy eating the rare juicy Blenheims out of hand and buy a little extra to preserve them. Chefs love them to make jams and they are excellent for canning.  The season is only two weeks long.

Earl’s Produce Buyer’s Notes Week of May 29th

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California Avocado Prices Continue to Rise

California avocado prices continue to slowly rise even after the Cinco de Mayo holiday.  The demand continues to be strong but the California crop is 30%-40% less than 2016 due to numerous factors.  A heat event in June 2016 damaged a good portion of this year’s set. Additionally avocados are alternate bearing and this is a lower volume year due to the natural rhythm of crop cycles. Let’s also not forget the last 5 years of drought. All of these events are leading to an early finish to the California season.

Avocado harvest varies based off of location and also by each season and year. Typically the season will begin in February/March in San Diego County regions, followed by harvest moving north into Santa Barbara in June/July and ending further up the coast in Cayucos later in the summer and fall. Harvest volume varies each season, along with different start and end dates by region. In past years, the California avocado season has gone as late into the year as November/December, but this year we expect California production and harvest to end within the next few months, expecting supply to decrease as early as July.

It is the standard practice every season to size pick early on to relieve pressure/burden on the trees. The largest fruit also gets the best price and most small sized fruit continues to grow and becomes larger. At this time of the year with the season ending sooner than normal, all of the sizes are being picked. Therefore we are seeing more 84ct avocados this year than in year’s past. Don’t miss out on our great price on Hass Avocado 84ct on Earl’s Weekly Specials. 

The good news is that there is a high chance we will have a shot at avocados from Central California at the end of the summer. According to one of our growers in the Cayucos region, they expect to have avocados from August to October or until they run out of fruit. They are attributing more water this winter as one of the reasons for a healthy crop. Stay tuned for updates throughout the summer.

Challenge your avocado knowledge!

How many weeks does it take to for an avocado to grow to the next size? (Check for answer below the photo)

Jesse from Traceland Avocados

Jesse from Traceland Organic Avocados


6 weeks

Earl’s Produce Buyer’s Notes Week of May 22nd

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