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Archive for December, 2020

Shortest Days of the Year and Cold Weather Present Challenges

The Winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun appears at its most southerly position. This time of year brings some of the hardest weeks traditionally to keep everything in house due to availability issues.  Shorter days mean less sunlight hours for plants to grow and short harvest time in the fields.  Cold weather is also now affecting most of the agricultural areas in California, Arizona and Northern Mexico, hindering the growth and harvest of all produce.This is the low point in the season for wet veg with short days and frost in the morning in the desert. 

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 have 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. Leafy greens can tolerate the frost up to a point or they can tolerate a few frosts but then damage shows up.   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.

Let us not forget the essential agricultural workers. Unfortunately many workers have been hit hard by Covid-19 with many packing sheds having challenges. Consequently field laborers and trucking companies are experiencing challenges due to the lack of workers. Thank you for your understanding and patience during this difficult time. We wish you and your family Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes December 20, 2020

NEW!  California Bacon Avocados from the Temecula region have a thinner skin and a smooth texture. They have a subtle light flavor and they do not turn black like a Hass when ripe.  New Citrus from Buck this week!

  • Limequat (read more under Citrus)
  • Algerian Mandarin- Also known as a Clementine. Small to medium size with sweet, rich, aromatic flavor. It is very juicy with bright red-orange color skin..
  • Buddha Hand
  • Finger lime- Squeeze gently for an effervescent tangy flavor. Wonderful in cocktails.
  • Pink Variegated lemons
  • Mango Orange- Lightly sweet with hints of vanilla

Download our buyer’s notes each week here!

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes December 13, 2020

Earl’s has a full line of Club Apples.  Look for our new Club Apple Category on our price list! Club apples are varieties that are not just patented, but also trademarked and controlled in such a way that only a select “club” of farmers can sell them.  Learn more about Club Apples on our Weekly Buyers Notes.  Download them here.

  • Ambrosia: Mildly sweet and tart with tropical notes. Very refreshing, crisp and juicy. Resists browning.
  • Autumn Glory: Crunchy, sweet with hints of cinnamon and subtle notes of cinnamon.
  • Cosmic Crisp: Crisp, juicy, sweet-tart. The large, juicy apple has a remarkably firm and crisp texture. Some say it snaps when you bite into it!
  • Envy: Smooth, sweet, aromatic with dense creamy yellow flesh that doesn’t turn brown.
  • Jazz: A crisp hard apple and the butter yellow flesh has an excellent strong sweet-sharp flavor with a pronounced fruity pear drop note.
  • Juici: Dense and sweet with a hint of tart. Crisp and juicy. Texture is similar to Honeycrisp but not as sweet.
  • Koru: Crisp, juicy, sweet flesh with notes of honey, orange juice, spice and vanilla.
  • Opal: Visually it resembles the Topaz with a ruby and orange blush, and an attractive golden yellow flush
  • Pinata: Tropical, crisp and very sweet, so much that you don’t notice the tartness, but it’s there keeping things refreshing. There’s a little banana and coconut and a lot of carrot juice. It is also known as Pinova, Sonata and Corail.
  • Rockit (New this week!) : Naturally bred to be a small apple with a high red blush color. Perfect snack apple.
  • Sugarbee: High sugar levels at harvest. Nice snap in every bite. Flesh is creamy white. It is a good keeper.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes December 6, 2020

NEW this week: Gorgeous Black Pearl Oyster Mushrooms from Sumano. Cosmic Crisp Apples are a cross between the ‘Enterprise’ and ‘Honeycrisp’. The large, juicy apple has a remarkably firm and crisp texture. Clementines 15×2# Cello Net Bags from Fruitworld are sweet and juicy.  Finger limes have an effervescent tangy lime flavor! Limequat is a cross between a key lime and a kumquat. The flavor and aroma is similar to a juicy, sour key lime but with an edible peel, delicious for making marmalade.  Download the full fruit and veg weekly update here!

 

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