|Chilean Hass Avocados
(Monday, August 29): California Hass Avocados have been hanging
on the trees for about 44 weeks now. That simply means that oil
content is certainly at its highest, and that the fruit will ripen
very fast. Because of the high oil content, the fruit is also less
susceptible to chill damage, which means you can keep it a little
longer than normal in refrigeration without them turning black inside.
Some early Chilean Hass Avocados have already started coming in
on boats, with heavier volume expected by late September. Vessels
should be arriving about every 10 days or so with fresh Avocados
from Chile. With California's crop about 85% finished, and prices
starting to rise, there shouldn't be any major supply gap between
California and Chilean fruit. Even though orchards in Chile are
mature, early fruit still tends to have less oil content and more
water content. This will make these early Chilean Hass Avocados
more susceptible to chill damage and blackening of the fruit. It
is best to plan your buys. You may want to buy your fruit a few
days in advance and keep the fruit in a warmer spot to ensure the
fruit is ripe when you need it. Although early Chilean fruit tends
to have less oil content than current California supplies, this
year’s Chilean fruit has been looking exceptionally nice.
Chilean fruit is also less expensive than the California Hass for
this time of year. Again, it will take longer to ripen, so buy in
advance…and be patient with them. If you need them ripe in
a hurry, enclose them in a brown paper bag, or put them in a box
and cover with plastic. This will help build the heat and cause
them to ripen. If they just aren’t ripening as fast as you
need, put a ripe banana or an apple in the bag or box. The ethylene
put off by the banana or apple, will help speed up the ripening
process with the Avocados.
|Valencia Oranges may start
re-greening during warm
VALENCIA ORANGES (Tuesday, August 30): Oranges
are the largest citrus crop in the world. In the U.S. oranges are
the fourth most popular fruit while orange juice is the most popular
juice. The delicious, sweet, juicy oranges that we eat in the United
States first came from China. There are many varieties of oranges
to choose from including Navel, Red Navel, Valencia, Hamlin, Pineapple,
Temple, Moro and Ambersweet. Valencia and navel are the two most
common varieties. Navel oranges are the most popular "eating"
orange in the world because they are seedless, easy to peel, juicy,
and sweet. While Valencia oranges can be eaten, most are used to
make orange juice. Oranges have been grown in the United States
for about 125 years, but in other parts of the world oranges have
been grown for thousands of years. These semitropical evergreens
probably originated in Southeast Asia. Columbus and other European
travelers brought sweet orange seed and seedlings with them to the
New World. By 1820 there were groves in St Augustine, Florida, and
by the end of the Civil War oranges were being shipped north in
groves. A freeze produced a major set back in production in 1895,
but by 1910 crops in Florida had been reestablished. Florida is
the number one citrus producer, producing 70% of the U.S. crop,
with 90% of that going into juice. However, Arizona, Texas, and
California also produce small amounts, with variations in color
and peel. Many people believe oranges were first grown in southern
China and India and then cultivated in North Africa and Spain, Brazil
and other South American countries and finally in North America.
Brazil is the leading orange-producing country in the world, followed
by the United States, Mexico, Spain, Italy, China, Egypt, Turkey,
Morocco and Greece. Florida and California are the leading orange-producing
states in the U.S. These two states produce nearly 25 billion pounds
of oranges each year! In 1873 three navel orange trees were brought
from Brazil and planted in Riverside, California. The trees started
producing fruit in 1878. Today, one of the three original trees
is still alive and producing fruit! If ripe oranges are left on
the trees too long they may turn from orange back to green. This
process, called re-greening, only affects color, not nutritional
quality or taste. Certain varieties, like Valencias, often have
blossoms and ripe fruit on the tree at the same time. All the extra
chlorophyll necessary to form new fruit, will “re-green”
the mature, ripe fruit on the branches. A greenish tint here or
there in no way affects the fruit inside. So, when purchasing your
Valencias in summer, you may find they have a green tinge. Most
people are unaware that they are actually the ripest, most delicious
oranges at this time. Warm weather triggers this re-greening process.
During warm weather, the leaves begin producing excessive amounts
of chlorophyll. As the weather warms, the excessive amounts of natural
chlorophyll are brought out in the skin, first around the stem and
then down the shoulder of the fruit. This re-greening gives the
Valencia a green “unripe” appearance. However, this
is not the case, as the inside of the fruit is ripe and juicy.
TOMATOES (Wednesday, August 31): The Fiesta de
La Tomatina is taking place today in Bunol, Spain. It’s the
last Wednesday of August. Lorry loads of vine-ripened tomatoes will
be delivered to the town council promptly at 11 am. The tomatoes
will then be hurled by thousands of participants at each other.
Since foreigners are prized targets, this is not a good day to be
a tourist in Bunol. I wish we could get some of those Tomatoes here.
We are in the middle of a sizable downturn in supplies across the
United States. Most of it has to do with extreme hot weather in
California’s San Joaquin Valley. Those very hot temperatures
caused a “blossom drop” on the plants. You see, when
the temperatures stress out the plant, then the plant goes into
survival mode. In order to protect itself, the plant will pull back
nutrients and moisture to the fruit and blossoms. Thus, the blossoms
drop. Every blossom is a piece of ripe fruit 30 – 45 days
later. About a month or so after a major blossom drop, we begin
seeing a downturn in supplies. That’s what we are in. That
may mean higher Tomato prices.
|Growers who use University
developed Strawberry varieties will continue to have strong
late summer production.
|The DiAmante Strawberry
variety is still in very good production right now.
(Thursday, September 1): Production in some fields is already down
over 25%, but these are a very few fields. A very few shippers have
also started pro-rating some orders. This decline will continue right
into October, when rains will finally knock out the Watsonville supplies.
Some Oxnard fields should be in production in September, depending
on weather conditions. Growers are struggling to keep up with demand.
That’s actually pretty typical for this time of year. The plants
have been in production for several months. They are getting tired
and start slowing in production. Not as many fruit will set on the
plants. Right now, we are noticing that a few growers are starting
to drop a day or two in harvest schedules during the week. As we move
into October, some growers get down to only 3 or 4 day a week harvest
schedules. Some growers are more affected than others. Those growers
who have proprietary, patented varieties are the ones who are struggling
the most with production right now, and are the ones prorating supplies
to their customers. Most growers in Watsonville use the “University
varieties,” ones developed by UC Davis. The primary University
variety in Watsonville is the DiAmante. Of the growers who use University
varieties, about 85% of the acreage is the DiAmante. This variety
is designed to have strong summer and early fall production. Next
year, most Watsonville growers expect to shift acreage to the newest
released University variety, the Albion. Growers with the DiAmante
are still in very good production. In fact, the only thing affecting
Strawberry production for the University varieties, is the sun. Most
fields in Watsonville haven’t seen the sun in almost two weeks.
The fields have seen a very heavy marine layer, which slows the ripening
and means not as bright a color. Most Watsonville growers are still
harvesting every day on their typical 4-day rotation. If they pick
from a field on Monday, they will be back in that field on Friday.
By October, these University variety growers may go to a 5-day rotation.
That’s when colder night time temperatures will really reduce
growth and harvest. Rains will play the biggest factor. When the rains
hit, that’s when production will really take a hit. Usually,
sometime in October or November, with the rains, Watsonville will
end their season. Most growers are happy with the current production
levels, except those who have their own patented varieties. Those
are the growers who will be experiencing a slumping cycle of production
over the next month or so, and will be pro-rating their orders to
retailers, which will mean some retailers will start having much smaller
displays of Strawberries.
|Growers with “University”
varieties are still harvesting every day with good production.
|Supplies are going to
get very tight very quickly, and that will mean higher prices.
STONEFRUIT (Friday, September 2): The endless
summer of fruit…is ending: Not a pretty sight when stonefruit
hits a brick wall. But that’s what will happen this year when
the season ends. It will be a very abrupt end to a flavorful season.
A lot of early heat in May and June pushed early maturity in the
orchards. In July, it seemed growers were harvesting several varieties
all at once. Growers have about 24 different varieties for a season.
Each variety is designed to be harvested in a certain 7 –
10 day period. When you get the kind of heat the San Joaquin Valley
had this summer, those varieties quickly bunch up and overlap each
other. Now that we are near the end of the season, there are no
more varieties to harvest. A few growers have already said they
have harvested their last white-flesh Peaches and Nectarines of
the season, and have only another week or so of harvesting yellow-fleshed
fruit. Fruit that should be harvested now, was harvested in early
August. Thus, the endless summer of summer fruit in California will
have a very quick end. Fruit from Washington will help extend the
season, but only for a few more weeks. Those huge displays of Peaches
and Nectarines will soon begin to shrink to much smaller displays,
and prices will also be much higher, with fewer and fewer ads.