MR. GREENS "FRESH TIPS"
December 7, 2001
Our last PRODUCE MAN PUZZZZLE dealt with apples: What apple is a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Kidd's Orange Pippin? This apple has become one of the most popular apples in New Zealand It's actually been around since 1939. The "Kidd" of Kidd's Orange Pippin is J.H. Kidd, a nurseryman in New Zealand. He first found this apple, but it wasn't until the Stark Brothers Nursery started promoting it in 1972 that the apple began to become popular. It is one of the first apples to be harvested in apple season, and it is one of the sweetest apples grown. It is the Gala. Wintertime means citrus time, so this week's PUZZZZLE still deals with citrus: What citrus is named after civil government workers? (Here's a hint: It's not government workers in America.) See next week's "Fresh Tips" for the answer.
--POINSETTIA: Next Week, we officially celebrate National Poinsettia Day. It's actually in honor of Dr. Joel Robert Poinsett (1779-1851). He was the first US Minister to Mexico. While in Mexico, Poinsett came across a plant that was native to Central America. He brought the plant back to the U.S. where it grew well in Florida. The plant produced bracts (modified leaves) in scarlet, pink or white and was named about Poinsett in 1836. The Poinsettia "blooms" between November and March and is the most popular flowering plant sold in the U.S. today, according to the Clemson University Home and Garden Information Center. This year, white Poinsettia's are in particular short supply. Please pre-order your Poinsettia plants now to ensure best color and best quality. Ask your JC Produce salesperson for sizes available and pricing.
--WEATHER: Rains and strong winds throughout most of California's growing regions, will have some impacts, particularly with crops from the Central Coastal growing regions of Santa Maria and Oxnard. Wet fields will prevent harvesters and equipment from entering, and that will slow some harvesting of row crops like Broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery and Cabbage. Also, certainly Strawberry production will be limited in the Oxnard region. Berries will be pink, with more white shoulder and will be more tender. If the storms bring in more cold air into Arizona, then that could have an impact on lettuces. Growers in Arizona say their fields were ahead of production by a few weeks anyway, so the cooler temperatures would help get their growing and harvesting schedules back to normal. In the short term, that may not have a huge impact, but if the temperatures do get cold, then that may have a stronger impact in late December, early January with some supply gaps.
--AIR TRANSPORTATION: During the holiday season, it is typical to have
some supply problems, particularly with products that depend on airplanes
for transportation. Space on airplanes becomes very tight and at premium
prices. During this time of year, most airline space is taken up with
people and packages, which are given a higher priority over fresh produce.
This will impact imported items like berries, asparagus, baby vegetables
and herbs. Increased costs will increase product pricing as well.
----BERRIES: With the holiday season upon us, berries become questionable,
in both supply and quality. There are still a few growers in Watsonville
still in production, but cold nights, cloud cover, dew, and rain are really
hampering berry production. For Strawberries,
this will mean very light colors in the fruit from Watsonville. The moisture
will also make the fruit more tender, more susceptible to bruising and
decay. Santa Maria/Oxnard also has a few growers still in production,
but supplies are very limited. Strawberry growers in Florida,
around Plant City, have
started picking in a very small way. Most growers there will be in full
production by the first week of December. There are also imported Strawberries
Zealand. Remember, imported Strawberries have smaller basket sizes,
generally, color is only about 75%. Even though imported Strawberries
are air-shipped, shelf-life is a little more limited. There are other
berries available, although in very limited supplies and high prices.
and Blueberries all have very
light supplies, marginal quality and shorter shelf life. Air-shipped imports
have started up from Guatemala.
From now into the Spring, berry supplies and prices will be quite a roller-coaster,
depending on weather conditions in the growing regions of Chile, New Zealand,
Mexico, Guatemala, Florida and California. Generally during this time
of year, the berry will also be very tender, susceptible to decay, bruising
and a short shelf life. This is the time of year to order conservatively.
Order just before you need them. Storage will be critical. Keep it the
driest part of your walk-in, out of the flow of air from the fans. That
air flow carries moisture, which can hasten the decay of delicate berries.
Handle like fine china.