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Archive for March, 2021

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes March 28, 2021

Coastal View Produce California asparagus is in excellent supply for Easter! California Avocados are projected to have a smaller crop this year. “Avocado trees have a tendency to adopt an alternate bearing cycle- an on crop/off-crop cycle. A large on-crop inhibits fruit set and flowering, leading to a smaller crop next year. “- California Avocado Commission  This year there were also high winds and a lack of rain which pushed the harvest back. We will see our first land of California Avocados from Eco-Farm on Monday. Wilgenburg Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes are grown in greenhouses in Dinuba, California.“Earl’s Organic Produce has been buying from Wilgenburg since 1997,” says Robert Lichtenberg, Earl’s director of purchasing. “Our customers look forward to their season starting every year—quality is great and the freshness cannot be beat. We especially enjoy both the European and Persian cucumber that they grow.” Download the full story and more in this weeks organic fruit and veg update.

Arroyo Grande Berry Farm

Maria Iniquez never imagined she would change her career from cosmetologist to farmer. Her brother Jose was always the farmer of the family with a dream of transitioning his strawberry farm to organic. Maria fell into farming when Jose unexpectedly passed away in 2015. She wanted to bring her brothers dream to fruition and to honor his memory and be close to him.

In 2016 Maria took over Arroyo Grande Farm with no experience farming and no one to teach her.  She started with 25 acres and a few years ago the owners sold some of the land, leaving her with 10 acres. The farm is located in Arroyo Grande, about 20 minutes south of San Luis Obispo. Situated on a mesa overlooking the ocean, the sand dunes are visible in the distance. The ocean provides a lot of the cool early morning breezes and the daytime temperature remains a constant 65-70 degrees year round. Never too hot or too cold, this unique microclimate “helps contribute to the flavor and growth of the plants,” said Maria. A quick drive 20 minutes away and the weather becomes much cooler or warmer.

“The first year taking on the farm there was a lot of trial and error growing strawberries. I put in hoop houses when I took over the land to help protect the strawberries from birds as well as prevent the berries from becoming too cold in the evening,” said Maria. 

Maria started with strawberries and now grows raspberries, snap peas, green beans, zucchini and fava beans are the newest addition to the farm this year. She rotates the crops throughout the year so there is always something growing. Strawberries are rotated with green beans and raspberries are rotated with zucchini.  Having a diverse crop rotation improves soil health, increases nutrients for the crops and helps to reduces erosion.

The best way to keep away the pests is to “keep the plants clean of weeds. We have hoops and a tractor doesn’t fit between the plants. We use pickers that pull the weeds by hand between the plants and on the road. It is very expensive to do by hand, “said Maria.

Arroyo Grande strawberries and raspberries are available on the shoulders of the season. Maria learned early on it is hard to compete on price with larger berry growers during the summer months. Arroyo Grande strawberries can be enjoyed as early as December through April/May and raspberries come on in late April/early May and then again in August.

When asked what she wanted her customers to know, Maria said that she “calls Arroyo Grande “my brother’s ranch”.  My brother was a people person and he would be so happy. The strawberries were his dream. He would invite me to stay and watch the beautiful sunsets and sunrises from the ranch.”

Arroyo Grande is now harvesting sweet strawberries and we can look forward to fava beans in a few weeks and snap peas in late April/early May.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes March 21, 2021

California citrus varieties evolve throughout the season and you can be sure that there is always something sweet and juicy to enjoy!  Hyde and Rainbow Valley Orchard Grapefruit flavor, juice and color is excellent. Fruitworld Blood Oranges are plentiful. Don’t miss easy to peel Murcott, Tango and Gold Nugget Mandarins, sweet and tart Minneola’s, pink flesh Cara Cara’s, and Navels.. Download Earl’s Organic Winter Citrus Guide and growing region map. Tutti Frutti Mr. Big English Pea variety is here! Plump, sweet peas are calling for spring dishes. Download this week’s organic update here. 

Warm Weather in the Desert Growing Regions Attracts 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 in March 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


Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes March 14, 2021

New this week- Blood Orange Sanguinelli are more sweet than tart. Dried Mangos are now available in a 1 pound pack. Golden Sunrise Papayas are winding down.  Watch ripening, storage and eating tips on Earl’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/earlsorganic/

Sun Valley Farms in the Pajaro Valley, an Earl’s Exclusive, is harvesting a bounty of red, green and rainbow chards and red and green kale. Did you get a chance to try Sun Valley’s newest addition to the greens family?  Gai Lan or Chinese Broccoli, has a taste similar to broccoli but slightly more bitter. Gai Lan is a Brassica oleracea plant species that includes cultivars such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts and collard greens. Beautiful flat, glossy green leaves with thick stems and florets, Gai Lan can be substituted for broccoli in stir fry recipes. Quick Tips!  Blanch in hot water before stir frying to help remove some of the bitter taste and keep the crunchy texture. Stir fry the stems first and then add in the leaves. Call in your order early on this delicious bitter green. Once it runs out Sun Valley will be gapping on Gai Lan for a few weeks until the next field is ready to be harvested. Download this weeks organic fruit and vegetable update and pos materials to highlight your retail display.


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