WEEKLY SPECIALS | SEASONAL CALENDAR | GROWER MAP

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Extreme Heat & Smoke from the Wildfires Brings Challenges Today & In The Future

The effect of scorching temperatures reaching over 110 degrees in August and again in September  in many growing regions,  including Salinas Valley and Bakersfield, will be cumulative . At any one time in vegetable row crops there are multiple plantings in the ground.  It might not be the planting that is currently being harvest that suffers, but plantings down the road.  What happens today might effect something scheduled to be harvested 60 -90 days from now. Think about this as not an event that happens and is over, but one whose effect we will see for the coming months.  Even the growers at times do not clearly see the quality issues for awhile.

The wildfires have brought weeks of smoke lingering across California.  The smoke is as troublesome for growers and field workers as it is for us as we go about our daily lives. It is just not possible to continue harvesting when the heat is excessive or lately when the smoke is above healthy levels.  We are seeing supply tighten up on many crops due to shorter harvest days.  The lack of sunlight due to the smoke  also slows down the actual growth of the plants. The harvesting in the fields that does happen is going slower because of social distancing requirement in the fields and in the production facilities.

What can you expect? 

*The issues with broccoli that we are seeing now in terms of quality and availability are actually from the first heat wave. Those plants were maturing when the heat wave hit. We are seeing some growers just walk away from entire planting because they have been damaged. Expect prices to continue to rise on lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, iceberg, sweet baby broccoli amongst others. 

*Dwelley Zucchini planting was destroyed by the heat.  We can look forward to Covilli starting their zucchini program earlier this year in mid-October.

* La Granjita and Durst cherry tomatoes are ripening up slowly due to the lack of sun and will be tight.

* Iceberg was burnt to a crisp and will be gapping this week.

* Anaheim chiles will be limited this week due to the lack of sun.

* Several Herb growers are reporting severe damage to crops, in particular basil, from the heat. The plants need a recovery period of at least 7-10 days, depending on crop damage it could be longer. 

*Snap Peas gapping for a week or so as they recover from the heat and sunburn.

*Artichokes put out thistles when it is too hot. Production has been reduced 50%. 

* Sunburn on hot pepper plants as well as tomato plants

* Strawberries were cooked by the heat. Expect strawberry volume to remain tight through at least the middle of the week.

* Maywood Farms in Corning is reporting that the ash from the wild fires and lack of sun is slowing down the ripening process and the green fruit in particular is very susceptible to quality issues. Expect all varieties to be tight again this week. 

* Excessive heat over the last month has stressed out the Valencia trees and caused the fruit to re-green and develop a green cast.  In order to protect themselves, the fruit trees begin the photosynthesis process and transfer energy in the form of nutrients from the fruit back into the tree.  Think of it as babies feeding the mother.  The condition of the fruit is also affected making the oranges weaker and shortening their shelf life.  Re-greening is a common physiological process that has affected our central valley growers harder than anticipated. We will be vey tight on valencias and expect to see more choice than fancy.

If you missed our blogs on the August and September heat waves you can read them here:

Labor Day Heat Wave Affects Quality and Supply
https://bit.ly/labordayheatwaveupdate

Update on Crops Affected by Extreme Heat WavE
https://bit.ly/updatecropsaffectedextremeheat

Extreme Heat Wave and Rain Storms Sweep Through California
https://bit.ly/californiaextremeheatwaveandrainstorm

 

 

Sunburned Heirloom Tomato Plants

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

Organic Girl is debuting two new salads this week! Baby Kale Spring Mix: Tender Baby Kale with Sweet Baby Spring Mix Greens–Available in 6/5oz clamshells; Butter Plus: Now with 100% Whole Red Butter Leaves with MORE iron than Spinach! Available in 6/4oz clamshells. Download the Buyer’s Notes each week for the latest organic fruit and vegetable news and updates.

Kiwi Berries Are A Nutritional Powerhouse!

It is Kiwi Berry time again! The season is very short, mid September through the beginning of October, so you don’t want to miss out. Kiwi berries are a member of the Actinidia genus family, the same as a regular kiwi and have been described as a cousin of the kiwi we all know.  Kiwi berries are also known by the name hardy kiwi, artic kiwi or baby kiwi. They taste exactly like a kiwi but they are about the size of a grape, fuzzless, with edible seeds and you just pop them whole into your mouth. Like kiwis, they are acidic until ripe.

POP THEM IN YOUR MOUTH AND ENJOY!

Kiwi berries are native to China, Korea, and Russian Siberia, much like the kiwifruit.  It is a fast-growing, hardy, perennial vine, in need of a frost-free season of 150 days. Each vine can grow up to 20 feet in a single season! Because of their seasonal requirements, they are well suited for areas of the North East and North West, and in fact, have become somewhat of an invasive weed in certain areas because of their rapid growth. Earl’s kiwi berries are now coming out of Wilsonville, Oregon about 30 minutes south of Portland. In October they will transition south to Oakland, Oregon about an hour south of Eugene.

Kiwi Berries are a nutritional powerhouse and a healthy food source containing over 20 nutrients. Each 6 oz portion contains twice the amount of Vitamin E of an avocado but with only 60% of the calories, 5 times the Vitamin C of an orange and more potassium than bananas.  Kiwi Berries are also high in fiber and rich in folic acid.

RIPENING AND STORAGE TIPS

Kiwis Berries are picked hard and ripened off the vine. They ripen at room temperature and are ready to eat when the skin turns a darker green, wrinkles and gently yields to touch. Similar to a kiwi they will be slightly acidic until ripe when they will be very sweet. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks but we doubt that will last that long.

Kiwi Berries can be used in a variety of ways, from being preserved as jam to being used as a marinade (kiwi berries are an excellent meat tenderizer). Try them in a salad, on a tart or cake, muddle them in a cocktail or just pop them in your mouth as a delicious sweet snack!

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

New this week! Sweet Carnival grapes– We are thrilled to have this super tasty grape grown in the Central Valley by Sunview.  The flavor is similar to Cotton Candy and sure to be a hit. Seckel Pears, or sugar pears are super sweet cute tiny pears that are only a few inches long with a round body and a small stem.  Their skin is an olive green with a dark maroon blush that sometimes covers the entire pear with a pale white to yellow flesh. Comice Pears are extremely juicy with sweet buttery flesh.  They are best eaten fresh out of hand or paired with a cheese plate. Habanada Peppers – Sweet! Not spicy, with all of the floral habanero flavors.  Similar in size to a Habanero. Jack O’ Lanterns, Sugar Pie and Mixed Winter Squash Bins. Download the Buyer’s Notes each week for the latest organic fruit and vegetable news and updates.

Labor Day Heat Wave Affects Quality and Supply

Last week we braced ourselves for an intense heat wave over the weekend and into Labor Day week. Temperatures reached over 110 degrees in many growing regions including Salinas Valley and Bakersfield. The heat affects our food production, putting not only the plants and fruit at risk but the people harvesting our food. Once the temperature reaches 90-95 degrees it is too hot to be in the field picking and workers need to be sent home. Hot days and fewer hours to pick will affect supply and quality across various commodities.

Some summer fruits such as watermelon, tomatoes and melons like the heat, however if it gets too hot for an extended period of time the plants become stressed, interrupting its production cycle, slowing down the ripening process and preventing necessary nutrients from reaching the plant. For many plants like tomatoes, new fruit will not set in high heat conditions.  The flowers will not pollinate leading to gaps in production down the road. 

What can you expect?

*Expect to see a little sunburn on some lettuce varieties.  Romaine and Butter lettuce will show the worst damage with browning around the top of the leaves.  Prices will continue to rise on lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, iceberg, sweet baby broccoli amongst others. 

*Seedless watermelons bins are almost finished for the season until Mexico starts by mid- October.  The mini seedless were another victim of the excessive heat with 6ct to 9ct affected the most by the heat, leaving 11ct fruit in good supply.

* We are not sure to what extent strawberries were cooked by the heat. Volume will most likely tighten up this week.

* Excessive heat over the last month has stressed out the valencia orange trees and caused the fruit to re-green and develop a green cast.  In order to protect themselves, the fruit trees begin the photosynthesis process and transfer energy in the form of nutrients from the fruit back into the tree.  The condition of the fruit is also affected making the oranges weaker and shortening their shelf life.  Re-greening is a common physiological process that has affected our central valley growers harder than anticipated. We will be very tight on valencias and will see more choice than fancy.

* Several herb growers are reporting severe damage to crops, in particular basil, from the heat. The plants need a recovery period of at least 7-10 days, depending on crop damage it could be longer. 

*Snap Peas gapping for a week to two weeks as they recover from the heat and sunburn.

*Artichokes open to flower in the heat.  Production has been reduced 50%. 

*Zucchini grew too fast because of the heat and had to be pulled off the plant. Supply will tighten up.

* Growers are reporting sunburn on hot pepper plants as well as tomato plants. Habaneros and cayenne will hopefully be back in a week. The tomatoes that were cooked will need to be pulled off the vine and composted.  The good news is that the sunburned pepper and tomato plants will recover.

It is unknown the extent of the damage from the heat but there is a good chance we will see shortages in production down the road.  We will continue to update you as we know more.

Burnt Romaine Lettuce Salinas Valley

Natural Thompson Grapes

Natural Thompson grapes have fabulous flavor! They are super sweet with thin skin and a natural size, like the old fashioned grape you used to get. Three Sisters Organic is one of the few California growers producing this special variety. Now available in a 2# clamshell.

Joe and Johnni developed their label “Three Sisters” after their three daughters. Natalie started farming with her father in 2000, and has learned the business from the ground up. She directs all of the farming operations and manages the sales of all crops. You will always see the father and daughter in the fields making sure that the farms are being cared for in the best way. They do not over crop their vineyards and pick late for a higher sugar content and fresher product. They know each grape personally! Their employees are dedicated and have been working for the Soghomonians for 10 to 40 years. They too are like family.

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

New this week! Traceland Avocados, fresh and dried Just Jujubees, Concord Grapes, California Keitt Mangos, California Fujis, Warren Pears, Cape Gooseberries and more! Another extreme heat wave is sweeping through California with temperatures up into 115 in the main growing regions. Find out what commodities will be affected. Download the Buyer’s Notes each week for the latest organic fruit and vegetable news and updates.

Rock Front Ranch Jujubes

Just Jujubes from Rock Front Ranch are California Grown! Located just 40 miles from the Pacific Ocean, in Santa Barbara County near Santa Maria, Rock Front Jujubes are grown on 320-acres, which sits at the gateway of the Cuyama Valley, surrounded by miles of chaparral and oak forests. This unique landscape is strewn with wildflowers, coastal plants, and towering desert rock formations.

Famous for its rich soil, the Cuyama Valley is heated by the sun each day and cooled by the western sea breeze each evening. These swings in temperature are important for your taste buds, as they encourage the maximum production of sugars for optimum flavor of the tree-ripened fruit.  Rock Front Ranch jujubes are extremely drought resistant, sipping—rather than gulping—precious water. This zero-waste crop thrives in their sandy, loam soil, which is enhanced with their own compost deliberately cultivated to sequester carbon from the air and encourage the growth of good fungi and bacteria.

Alisha Taff Grower Rock Front Ranch

Crisp and refreshing, with a delicate fig-and-caramel flavor, fresh jujubes provide more vitamin C than your average citrus fruit. Toss into a weeknight salad, swap out added sugar in baked goods for the subtle sweetness, or simply remove the pit and whir into a healthy fruit smoothie to go. Jujubes are refreshingly versatile—Tuck a handful of the fruit into a variety of recipes from breakfast to dessert and see how they transform any dish into a nutrient-packed meal.

Fresh Jujubes are now available in 6/clamshell pints  and dried jujubes in 12/2.5oz pouches

Traceland Avocados Morro Bay

Earl’s just received delicious California avocados from Traceland in Morro Bay. Traceland is located in Cayucos near the ocean on the central coast and about 20 miles northwest of San Luis Obispo where the unique geography and climate allows year round growing conditions without high heat or killing frosts.  Cayucos sits in a small area of coastal land defined by the Santa Lucia mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The ocean cools the hot summers and warms the cold winters.  The land is bisected at various places along its length by wild creeks that flow unimpeded from the coast range to the ocean providing the copious amounts of water avocado trees need to fruit.       

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Ron Trace-In the middle, Jesse Trace-On the right

Ron, Gail and their twin sons moved to Cayucos in 1998 from Chicago.  In 2005 they planted their 6 acre avocado orchard with a goal to grow organic avocados as sustainably as possible.  The avocado trees are planted on natural slopes and not man made terraces, which affects the drainage.  He also puts down composted manures, organic minerals and wood chip mulches to fertilize the trees.  Cover crops of native grasses are used to produce natural nitrogen, honey bees are used for fruit production and predator insects for biological disease control.  Weeds are pulled by hand and they even trap gophers by hand.

Traceland is also unique because they hand pick all of the avocados and deliver them to Earl’s within 24 hours of picking! The flavor is very creamy and rich in oil content. We feel it is the best eating avocado of the season.

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Jesse from Traceland Avocados

Remember that a California avocado will be very mature, high in oil and needs to be eaten firm. Mexican avocados are now starting to show up in your grocery store. Buyer beware! Mexican avocados are the first of the season and will eat differently. They will not be as flavorful as a California avocado and can ripen unevenly.

Cape Gooseberries

Cape gooseberries are native to South America, and they’re closely related to the tomatillo. They make delicious jams, pies or a beautiful fall garnish. Cape Gooseberries are a pretty golden color and are about the size of a large marble. The fruit is delicately covered by a husk similar to a tomatillo.

They are full of seeds with a texture and flavor similar to a tomato but with a deeper flavor and a hint of tartness.  The unusual taste has been compared to various combinations of tomato, strawberry, mango, pineapple, fig, grape and more.

How to enjoy Cape Gooseberries!
Cape gooseberries can be eaten out of hand or cooked, and they work well in savory and sweet dishes. Add to a salad, chop for a salsa, roast in the oven or make them into jam. They store well when they are left in their husks. Now available in a 4# case!

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