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Archive for October, 2021

Stay Healthy This Winter with Side Hill Satsumas

From our frame of reference Side Hill Citrus Satsumas from Lincoln, in the Sacramento foothills have the perfect mix of sweetness, tartness and low acidity, with very little pulp and no seeds. Rich Ferreira is a 4th generation farmer who started with only 75 trees back in 1975.  Rich has been certified organic since 1991 and now has over 2000 trees. The combination of a higher elevation of 600 feet, nutrient filled organic clay soil, warm summer days and cool nights and using a Satsuma Owari rootstock from China all contribute to growing consistently delicious Satsuma Mandarins year after year.

Satsumas, also called Mikans, are a Japanese variety brought to the US in 1878. Most citrus fruits originated in China, which is where the word mandarin comes from, and then made their way west .  In the United States Satsumas are grown in places where you wouldn’t normally expect citrus to grow. They need hot summers and a certain amount of chill hours in the winter and can tolerate low temperatures down into the 20’s.  Satsumas are grown in California in the thermal belt which runs from the San Joaquin Valley up to north of Sacramento.  They also grow in some southern states like Texas, Louisiana and Alabama where there are mild winters.

Satsumas have a loose peel that slips off effortlessly like a glove, with no mess and no seeds to deal with.  Satsumas are a perfect snack size that you can eat anywhere without the difficult peeling and complication that comes with eating a valencia or navel orange.

Satsuma Mandarins

Health Benefits:

A 2008 U.S. Department of Agriculture study said Satsumas have six to seven times as much synephrine, a natural decongestant, as other citrus. Four or five Satsumas have enough synephrine to equal the effect of a Sudafed tablet, the study said. Satsumas are also naturally low in calories and a single fruit contains 34 percent of the USDA daily recommendation for vitamin C.

Buying Satsumas:

Look for fruit with an aromatic smell, firm tight peel, no dented spots and a heavier fruit means they are juicier. They can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator, but not for too long because prolonged storage can dry them out.

Degreening Citrus

As we know every commodity comes to market at different times of the year every year. California Valencia season historically runs through October.  Multiple extreme heat waves over the summer months, wind fall and a lower crop yield this year ended the Valencia crop earlier than usual, creating a gap in the citrus category.  

By late October California Navels begin to enter the market.  The navels being picked at this time do not have the beautiful orange color we normally associate with a navel orange. When warmer nights occur, citrus will mature with a green cast over the skin. What brings up color on citrus is the cold nights of the fall and winter that naturally transforms the preserved chlorophyll in the fruit from green to orange.  Summer fruit lacks the chill hours needed to bring on the orange color and we normally see the best color on navels starting in December.

To determine when to harvest, growers will test the brix, or sugar levels, of the fruit in order to decide if it is ready to eat.  If the sugar levels are too low the fruit will be left on the tree longer.  When the sugar levels are sufficiently “high”, but the outside of the fruit is green, this is caused by the lack of chill hours not yet achieved when harvesting at this time of year.

Growers can choose to leave the fruit on the tree longer to color up or some citrus growers will make the decision to harvest and degreen the citrus or color them up by gassing them with ethylene. This is the same process used to color up bananas in our banana rooms. Ethylene is an odorless, colorless, natural gas released by mature fruit such as apple and bananas. You can experiment at home by putting a piece of light colored citrus in a paper bag with an apple or banana and this will naturally color up the citrus. Need a ripe avocado?  Speed up the ripening process by placing an avocado and an apple or banana in a paper bag.

Degreening citrus has been practiced at least since the early 1960’s, especially on fruit coming out of Mexico or the southern hemisphere where the nights are warm, preventing fruit from coloring up to their full potential. Fruit with a green cast is picked into bins and pre-washed in the field. The following day the fruit bins are loaded into ethylene rooms with temperatures set at 70-80 degrees and a humidity level of 80%. The degreening process can take 1-4 days to achieve the desired color. After the fruit is removed from the degreening rooms it is aired out, run through the packing line and finally washed, graded, and packed.

This process also helps to identify any problematic fruit. Fruit with quality issues, especially from the recent rain, will be accelerated in the degreening process.  All visible problematic fruit is removed on the packing line, helping to make sure that the completed box has high quality fruit. The process of degreening or coloring up with ethylene is meant to produce the customary orange color of citrus.  

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes October 24, 2021

Covilli has started up with their warm veg Fair Trade program out of Mexico! Zucchini is already here and looks beautiful. Green beans will start up slowly this week as well as Jalapenos. The first week of November we will see Poblano, Cherry Bomb, Eggplant, Grape Tomato and Acorn Squash. Download the Fair Trade Principles to share with your customers.

Eating habits change with the rain and cold weather.  Soups, stews, winter squashes and comfort food are on everyone’s mind. The roots category is bursting with your favorites: Celery Root, Parsnips, Rutabaga, Sunchokes and Purple Turnips! Thanksgiving is a month away and mushrooms are one of the top holiday dinner items. Download this week’s Buyer’s Notes and print up the full line of Far West Fungi Specialty Dried Mushrooms and Club Apple, Winter Squash ad Sweet Potato Guides!

Rain Causes Harvest Disruptions

Rain hit Northern California hard this past week, especially in the Salinas and Watsonville growing region, with heavy rain returning Sunday and Monday. Generally, for known weather events like this, growers will try to pick as much as they can prior but that is of course limited by time and labor. We will see lower volume on row crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, and leaf lettuces. The rain is expected to knock out most of the strawberry production in Watsonville and Salinas. We can expect harvest delays due to wet fields, possible post-harvest quality issues and even logistics snafus.  Prices will go up substantially based on lack of supply.

Covilli Fair Trade Certified Since December 2015

Covilli became Fair Trade Certified in December 2015. They are the first and only 100% Organic and 100% Fair Trade company in North America. Since December 2015 Covilli has sold over 29 million pounds of Fair Trade product! Thank you for voting with your dollars and contributing to the Fair Trade Premium. With those funds Covilli’s workers have completed 4 community projects and have another 3 in the works. See the projects below!

Covilli Fair Trade Premium Earned

2015 to date: $1,450,000.00

Earl’s contribution 2015 to date: $316,261.39

Why did Covilli decide to become Fair Trade Certified? Watch the Covilli Fair Trade Introduction now!

Covilli kicked off their season with zucchini in a big way and we will see Jalapenos next week. Green Beans will start up in a small way next week.  Early November we can look forward to Poblano and Cherry Bomb hot peppers, Eggplant, Grape Tomatoes and Acorn Squash.


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