WEEKLY SPECIALS | SEASONAL CALENDAR | GROWER MAP

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California Avocado Season Off To A Late Start

The California avocado season is experiencing unique circumstances this year. The season is off to a late start and is expected to end early. To give you a frame of reference, last year the season started in January and this year the first organic California avocados landed at Earl’s the beginning of March.  The southern California region, think San Diego County, is estimated to be done harvesting by June. The northern California region, think Morro Bay, will start up in late summer and go into early Fall depending on how growers manage their supply.

Overall volume will also be smaller this year. The current California avocado season is predicted to be approximately half the size of last year with an estimated total harvest of 175 million pounds with 8% (14 million pounds) grown organically.  This dramatic decrease in volume is due partially to this being an alternate bearing year, but primarily to a record-setting heat wave last summer where avocado growing regions across Southern California saw temperatures between 118-122 degrees for a two-day period.  This intense heat destroyed much of the young fruit set that would grow into the 2019 crop.  We have heard from several small California growers reporting total crop failures for the season.

How Will California Avocado Growers Handle Their Crop This Year?

It will be hard to forecast volume and pricing this year. The growers that do have fruit are monitoring their trees and have to decide how to maximize their return. On one hand there will be growers that have a very limited crop. They may decide to hold fruit on the tree longer and pick in a fashion in order to maximize their inventory and return. Then there will be growers that have good supply and will have an opportunity this year to get top dollar for their crop. 

The good news is that we will be providing California avocados for the duration of the season. We just don’t know how long that will be.  We just ripened our first arrival of fruit from San Diego County this week and these California avocados are truly delicious!

Mexican Avocado Crop

The Mexican avocado season is well into the ‘Normal’ season.  All avocados imported into the U.S. from Mexico are grown in the mountainous state of Michoacán.  With an ideal combination of rich, volcanic soil, abundant sunshine and well-timed rainfall, Michoacán is one of the few places in the world where avocados can be grown year-round.  Furthermore, there are four seasons or blooms associated with the Mexican crop; Flora Loca, Aventajada, Normal and Marzena.  Flora Loca avocados are picked June-September and Aventajada is from July-October.  Normal represents the majority of production with harvest from September thru February while Marzena is March to June.  The Normal & Marzena fruit has increased dry matter content.  Dry matter, defined as the part of food that would remain if all of its water content were removed, is assessed to determine maturity, ripening behavior and flavor.  The higher the dry matter the faster the fruit ripens and shelf life decreases.  Also, higher percentage of dry matter relates to higher oil content and buttery flavor and mouthfeel.  We will carry Equal Exchange, Fair Trade Mexican avocados for the next few weeks until the California season hits its early stride.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes March 17, 2019

It is Equal Exchange Banana Month!

Equal Exchange bananas are unconventional. It’s not just that they are organic and fair trade. The Equal Exchange banana supply chain is a genuine departure from the conventional system – from the small farmer cooperatives directly exporting bananas to the alternative, independent retailers making them available to conscious eaters. Together, step-by-step, we are building a real alternative to conventional bananas. Check out the Equal Exchange video in our latest buyer’s notes!

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes March 10, 2019

Earl’s Organic adds Shannon Waldron to buying team. Waldron was hired in 2017 as a sales associate. Before that, she was a commodity buyer for Capay Organic Farm for a year and buyer for Farm Fresh to You. She was sales manager for Suzie’s Farm, San Diego, a company she worked for from 2008-2015.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes March 3, 2019

The weather down in Mexico is warming up and we are back into a good supply of zucchini, brussels sprouts and green beans.

Warmer Weather Brings Aphids

High temperatures and humidity for an extended period of time create the perfect conditions for aphids and mildew quality issues.  This week temperatures in the California desert regions moved into the high 70’s and 80’s and all desert vendors are seeing increasing mildew and aphid pressure on warm veg items including broccoli, cabbage, kale and lettuce.

Aphids love the heat and humidity and it is almost impossible to control organically. We see this happen with organic produce every year when it gets too hot towards the end of February in the California desert and again during the warm summer months in the Salinas Valley.

Organic growers do their best to combat aphids. We asked a few of our growers what they do to control aphids. Lakeside Organics uses a lot of beneficial predatory bugs like lady bugs who love to eat Aphids.  Josie’s Organics plant beneficial flowers to attract good bugs to mitigate pressure from unwanted bugs (in this case, aphids) and implements a healthy crop rotation. Many growers, especially strawberry growers’ use a bug vacuum designed to suck up the aphids right out of their fields.

We will see quality issues continue for a while and prices rise as supplies tighten up. We will continue to share updates as the season progresses.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes February 25, 2019

Roads in Washington have cleared and we now have plenty of Fuji, Gala, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp and Granny Smith. Fruit coming out of Controlled Atmosphere has high color, very good pressures and excellent flavor. All these varieties are at promotable prices. Jazz, Pacific Rose, Envy, Piñata and Opal are also in good supply and at promotable prices.

 

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It’s Snowing In Arizona and at the Mexican Border!

As I type this update on Friday afternoon about the northern Mexico growing regions receiving frost this week we just got word that the Mexican/Nogales border is closed due to snow!
This extreme cold weather is very usual at this time of year. A combination of cold weather and the border being closed will tighten up supply of warm veg items including zucchini, green beans, brussels sprouts, peppers, romas and heirloom tomatoes. Your Earl’s Sales rep will update you on supply throughout the week.

Live Cam Mexican border at Nogales closed due to snow Feb 22, 2019 11am

Live Cam Mexican border at Nogales closed due to snow Feb 22, 2019 11am

Asparagus Update:

The asparagus growing regions of San Luis Colorado, close to the border of Yuma/Az and Caborca, Sonora have been experiencing rainy, windy and cold days with temperatures down in the mid- 20’s at night leading to a start and stop situation. Growers have had to knock all the misshapen spears down and start again. Keep in mind that asparagus is cut every day and the same crown will produce a different product each time they harvest because they are grown in a different environment.

 

WEATHER ALERT: Heavy Rains Pound California

Wet Veg: As predicated heavy rains this past week throughout California are causing delays in harvesting and packing.  We are receiving reports from growers in the Salinas and Coachella Valley regions that they have been rained out. This means no one is getting into the fields to harvest and we will be tight on many items into the middle of the week.

Apples: Heavy snow storms in Washington delayed trucks and temporarily affected supplies. The good news is that as of Monday, February 18th the roads are clear in Washington and we have a great supply of Fuji, Gala, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp and Granny Smith.

Citrus: Rain will affect supplies of most citrus. Growing regions of San Diego County and the San Joaquin Valley have both received excessive amounts of rain the last few days. Most growers will not be able to harvest until mid-week next week. Luckily most of the harvest was done before the rain and some growers will be packing pre-rain fruit on Monday.

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Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes February 17, 2019

NEW! Yellow Spring Onions and Red Torpedo Onions, Brussels Sprouts from Covilli in 12/1# bags and Red Globe Grapes from Peru. Download our Winter Citrus Guide!

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Earl’s Organic Winter Citrus Guide

Earl’s Organic follows the flavor of winter citrus as we move from variety to variety. Download Earl’s Organic Winter Citrus Guide and Growing Region Map!

Winter Citrus Guide

California Citrus Growing Regions

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