Produce Market News

Draeger's posts this information from the Produce Market uneditted. It is for informational purposes only. Produce availability varies daily due to weather and other factors.

Produce News 12/5/2012

Just as birds migrate south for better weather, so it is with Produce Buyers, where the majority of the industry is "moving south" for the winter. Weather plays an important role in the quality and availability of product for the next few months, affecting not only grow conditions but transportation and shelf life. The product quality you experience today may have been impacted by a storm or freeze 4-8 weeks ago. Keep this in mind as you order for your stores and remember that we are entering the season of "two day rides" for product delivery.

Berries: California Strawberries may suffer extensive damage if the forecast rains materialize, forcing us to look to Mexico and Baja. Blackberries from Mexico are in ample supply with moderate quality. Blueberries are transitioning out of Argentina into Chile and Mexico. Although Argentina fruit is cheap, quality is questionable and Chile proves to be the better choice.

Citrus: California Citrus is showing promise with quality and flavor improving weekly and will soon compete with Texas and Florida for Oranges, Clementines, Mandarins, Cara Cara, etc.

Melons: Cantaloupes and Honeydews are currently from Mexico transitioning soon into Central America, starting with Guatemala first then Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Watermelon has been running strong out of Mexico with steady volume.

Mangoes: Mangoes are day to day with the majority coming from Ecuador and primarily the Tommy variety. Expect to see Kent and Hayden varieties available in the near future with sizing anywhere from 8s to 12s.

Tomatoes: Romas, Round Tomatoes and Grape Tomatoes are nearing the move to Mainland Mexico from Baja, California. Grape Tomatoes are the first to make the move and we should see Romas begin in mid December with the Round Tomatoes following towards the end of the month. Warm weather conditions have everyone predicting good quality out of the gate.

White and Crimini Mushrooms: The East Coast weather has driven shortages across the US with Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc. Buyers in the East turned to Western Canada, cutting into what is usually a Western US supply. Look for better availability in the new year as the East begins to recover.

Onion: Yellow, Red and White Onions are winding down from California this week, we have now moved to Idaho and our traditional long day onions with the nice golden shell. The Reds and Whites will also begin from the Northwest with beautiful skins this week.

Veggies and Greens: Chokes and Brussels are still local. Lettuce has finished in Salinas and Heron, taking us to Arizona for supply. Celery and Cauliflower are Santa Maria and Oxnard grown. Radishes and Green Onions continue from Mexico. Crowns are moving south with Salinas and Santa Maria struggling to keep up. Beans, squash, cucumbers, bells and eggplant are currently harvested in Mexico. Basil is no longer available locally, now coming from Mexico althought locally bunched.

Produce News 10/17/2011

Stone Fruit: Summer fruit is just about done for the year. We were able to extend the stone fruit season this year with good quality product from Washington and Idaho. There will be yellow nectarines, white peaches and Flavor Fall Plumcots available through the middle of next week.

Pears: Lake County Bartlett and Bosc pears should continue to be available through the end of the month. Then we will transition to the northwest for the best quality fruit.

Citrus: Florida grapefruit and Fall Glo Tangerines have started and Texas grapefruit is already in many stores. The California navel season is forecasted to start around November 10th.

Apples: All apples are now “new crop. Varieties such as Braeburn, Pink Lady and Rome apples will become available in the next few weeks.

Seasonal Fruit and Nuts: Pomegranates and Fuyu Persimmons are now available. New crop nuts are late this year and we still do not know when they will be available.

Squash: Local soft squash is coming to a close and the weather will dictate the end of California product. Mexican zucchini is showing up in volume so pricing is quite favorable.

Blueberries: Northwest blueberries are still available, but we will be moving into “new crop” blues from Argentina soon. These Argentinean blueberries are available now but are very pricey.

Mushrooms: The heavy rain and flooding that took place at the end of August and early September in Pennsylvania has brought about a real shortage of white and brown mushrooms. In Pennsylvania the mushrooms are grown below ground level in “bunkers.” These bunkers were flooded by the recent rains and have not been brought back into production yet. The customers that would have been purchasing from these PA farms are now pulling product from Canada and the west coast. This is causing the current shortage.

Vine Ripe & Roma Tomatoes: Roma and vine tomatoes will be in good supply as several farmers from Baja are breaking into new fields.

Sweet Yellow Onions: OSO Sweet Yellow Onions from Peru will continue to be in good supply. You can look forward to a new sweet yellow onion called “Ever Mild” that should be hitting the market in four to six weeks. This new seed is being developed by Monsanto in conjunction with Bland Farms. Bland is one of the largest growers of Vidalia onions in the United States.

Pineapples: The Hawaiian pineapple supply has been very short due to heavier than normal rainfall from mid-August to mid-September on Oahu. The fall is traditionally a lower production period for Dole; however, this year current crop yield is zero. Maui Fresh has managed to continue to supply the market with some product due to better weather on the island of Maui although lack of color is becoming more of an issue each day. Dole should re-enter the market again in about three weeks.

Watermelons: Seedless watermelons are still very good. The Yosemite and Perry labels seem to be the best. Look for prices to go up as shippers switch from bins to boxes. USA Purehearts (or personal size watermelons) are maintaining good quality and Mexico is hitting the market as well with comparable fruit. USA fruit is running at 11 count while Mexican fruit is 9 count.

Mangoes: Mangoes are hit and miss these days with the majority of the Tommy Atkins variety coming out of Brazil.  The color is very good but some lots are reportedly cutting black.  Prices have been in the $8.00 – 10.00 range depending upon size.  Altaufo Mangoes are sporadically available as well.

Broccoli: The quality on Broccoli and Broccoli Crowns has been good and pricing remains reasonable.  You can expect this to continue through the week.

Basil: Local Basil is winding down and coming to a close.  You can expect to see Mexican Basil hitting the market in the next week or two. 

Organic Produce News 8/12/2011

California stone-fruit is winding down, specifically growers in the lower San Joaquin Valley regions.  Growing regions will steadily move North as the California season comes to a close.  Look for peaches and nectarines from the Pacific North West to start next week.

Burkart Farms has started picking the final white and yellow peaches varieties.  The O’Henry variety yellow peach will be last high volume variety with other lower volume varieties to follow.  O’Henry peaches and other late summer varieties are known as free-stone peaches since their pit(also referred to as the stone) is easily removed from the juicy flesh.  With its characteristic red streak near the pit, this colorful fruit holds its shape even when dead ripe, making it perfect for grilling or eating out of hand.

A quick and delicious summer treat: Cut an O’Henry in half and brushing it lightly with Olive Oil.  Grill it until just soft and add crumbled farmers cheese and drizzle with truffle oil (regular olive oil works too), place it on a bed of arugula tossed with marcona almonds, a pinch of salt, and enjoy!  This summer treat not to be missed!

It is also prime time for Pluots!! Do not miss out on Dapple Dandy variety. We’re offering Dapple Dandy pluots from Burkart and Twin Girls, both are sweet, juicy, and bursting with flavor.  The Dapple Dandy has a dark burgundy exterior with mustard yellow speckles and a lovely bloody red interior.  Unexpected and intriguing- make sure you have samples on hand for your customers.  This unique pluot’s flavor is juicy with a great bite, almost crunchy but not quite, sweet, and lovely in every way with a slightly tart finish.

Have you tried the Red and Yellow Spanish Peppers from T&D Willey Farms?  These peppers are the La Rouge Variety - an elongated rather than blocky shaped bell pepper and slightly sweeter than your traditional bells.  Willey farm boasts a year round offering of Mediterranean Vegetables that grow perfectly in the climate of their Madera, Ca. farm- located in the very fertile San Joaquin Valley.    In addition to the Red and Yellow Spanish Peppers, we offer their Okra, Mediterranean Cucumbers (a thin-skinned, seedless variety), Italian Sweet Frying Peppers (a long, thin, corkscrew shaped pepper that sweetens beautifully when fried), Jalapenos as Serrano, as well as Crookneck Squash and Red and Yukon Potatoes.  Tom and Denesse Willey pride themselves on producing the highest quality produce.  From field to packing shed, produce is treated with the utmost care and it shows in each and every case.  The Willey’s farm is also unique in their employment- by farming and harvesting during all four seasons they can permanently employ 55 people full-time, year-round.  This permanent work force offers many advantages, including a highly trained and experienced work force on the farm that cares about the quality of what they produce.  They also pay their workers a living wage and provide bonuses and paid vacation.  T&D Willey is widely recognized as one of the best farm employers in the Valley.

Organic Produce News 8/5/2011

We've got delicious Cantaloupe, Galia and Sharlyns from Three Star Farm in Los Banos, CA.   Los Banos is located roughly 2 hours southeast of San Francisco on the Western edge of the San Joaquin Valley.   Patrick Stewart, our sales manager and Randy Windham, our fruit buyer were recently on the farm to see these melons in the field and learn more about the fertile soil they're grown in.  Three Star Farms has been growing melons in Los Banos for 95 years and Berj Moosekian is a 3rd generation farmer.  Three Star Farms has built their reputation on consistently growing/shipping melons of the highest quality and flavor.  Berj feels that the high quality and excellent flavor of Three Star melons is due, in part, to the farm's location in the west valley. The west valley (Firebaugh to Los Banos) is ideal for growing melons because of its rich soil and low water table. This area is technically not the Valley floor but rather a rich bed of thick topsoil that, over many years, has been washed down from the surrounding Diablo Mountain Range and deposited on the Valley. The hot, dry conditions also contribute to this being an excellent growing region for melons.  Melons need intense heat to reach size and increase sugars.  Once the melons are planted they are given a surge of water to quickly grow a full canopy of vines (which protects the melons in 100 degree weather) and to increase size.  After the initial watering it is imperative to limit water to just enough for the plants to survive. This method produces melons that are firm with an intensely sweet depth of   flavor.  These melons are amazing and at their peak of flavor now!!

Farther north, in Yolo County we’re getting an excellent supply of melons from Fully Belly, Capay, Riverdog and Terra Firma Farms.  Stock up on watermelon varieties such as the Orchid- orange flesh, Little Baby- red flesh and Yellow Doll- yellow flesh.  And be sure to try the Goddess melon- an aromatic, ambrosia like melon.

New crop California Bartlett Pears have arrived from the Sacramento Valley, specifically the Clarksburg/Cortland area south of Sacramento. 

Champagne grapes will be available for about the next month.  Supply is limited, but these beauties are not to be missed!  These tiny gems are very delicate and are packaged in retail friendly clamshells for protection. 

We’ve got an excellent supply of beans coming from the Santa Barbara area- Givens Farms, Brentwood- Dwelley Farm, and Alba and Lakeside both out of the Salinas Valley.  Expect the price to lower and the quality to remain high.   We’re also getting Romano’s, Yellow Wax, French Filet and Purple Beans.  This it the perfect time of year for a varietal bean display!

Have you tried the cucumbers from ALBA?  ALBA- The Agriculture and Land-Based Training Associated is an educational organic farm training center in Monterey County.  They provide educational and business opportunities for farm workers and aspiring farmers.  These farmers grow and sell crops on two organic farms in Monterey County.  They are doing an excellent job expanding their commodity line and the cucumbers are not to be missed.  We’re offering both 36ct and 42ct sizes, why not lower your price point with a case of each?

The supply of Early Girl Tomatoes will continue to be steady.   This classic summer tomato is valued not only because it is an early-ripening slicing tomato packed with flavor (not usually a strength with early-season varieties), but also for its dependability.  Early Girl’s disease resistance and adaptability means it performs well in almost every kind of climate.  As an extra bonus, Early Girl are considered to especially high in vitamins A and C.

Produce News 6/30/2011

Grape Tomatoes: Oxnard picked a few grape toms on 6-27 but another picking is not scheduled until next week.  Fresno projects its first pick will be this week as well.  The Fresno area is reporting a large number of tomatoes on the vines but they still lack the necessary color.  Recent rains may impact quality of the early fruit.

Vine Ripe & Roma Tomatoes: Look for the first California roma tomatoes to harvest around July 20th from the Oceanside area.  We are currently enjoying good quality romas from Baja and this should continue for the foreseeable future.

Red, White and Yukon Potatoes: The Bakersfield varietal potatoes are maintaining good quality.  We will continue to pull from Bakersfield until approximately July 18th.  The Stockton potatoes that traditionally start around July 4th are projected to start two weeks later than normal due to late planting.

Russet Potatoes: We are reaching the end of the Klamath potatoes and by July 16 or so we will be switching to new crop California.  Washington will follow with a new crop by the end of July. You can expect prices to spike in the near future because supply will be limited.

Red & White Onions: While the white onions are doing well, the reds have struggled to get a good skin set.  Look for the quality to improve as the harvest moves north towards Stockton over the next few weeks.

Vidalia’s from Georgia have finished and Walla Walla’s should start around July 1st.  Regular yellow onions have been a challenge due to the late rain we have experienced.  These damp conditions have made it difficult to get a good skin set.  The occasional staining you might see is a result of the moisture.

Organic Produce News 6/14/2011

Peaches and Nectarines are in full swing.  All colors are available. We also have some early Plums and Pluots, expect supply to become more steady as the weeks go on.  We’re not seeing too many Apricots due to the wet and mild weather we’ve been having.

All strawberries are coming out of the Salinas and Watsonville area.

Blueberries will continue at a great price and have excellent flavor.  The growing region  will be moving to the Pacific Northwest .  We anticipate steady supply through the summer.

Cantaloupes are coming from the Imperial Valley right now but will be moving north next week to the Bakersfield area.

Cherries from CA are finished.  Pacific Northwest Cherries will start next week.  We’ll see Chelans, Brook’s, Burlats and Lapins.

Beans: We’ve got locally grown beans from Dwelley in Brentwood, CA.  Gorgeous Blue Lakes, Yellow and Romano  Beans available now. We’ll have French Filets from them soon as well.  Ramp up those summer displays with some varietal summer beans!

Prices of Chards and Kales have stabilized thanks to the warm weather we’ve been having.

We have a new label on bulk Spring Mix and Baby Spinach.  It’s called New Star.  They are the same company as Organic Girl.  Make sure you try it out, it’s excellent!

Potatoes: We’ll have new crop russets at the end of the week from Tomorrow’s Organic.

Tomatoes: The California grown Mixed Heirloom has returned!  Look for us to be your supplier of Tutti Frutti Heirlooms through November.

Produce News 6/3/2011

Cherries: Bings are finally ready to be picked but the rain expected this weekend may do some damage to the crop.

Berries: Watsonville strawberries are in full swing and the quality is excellent.  Once again, the recent rains will have an impact on local strawberries.  Blackberries are still coming out of Mexico.  Blueberries are coming from Oxnard and raspberries are coming from Watsonville.

Citrus: We are now in a late variety of oranges called “ Lanes” and the quality is very good.  There are still some varieties of tangerines hanging around but they are looking tired.  The same holds true of Minneola tangelos.

Cantaloupe: California cantaloupe out of Bakersfield is here and very good.

Pears: Bartletts, Packhams and Comice are coming from Chile.  Bosc pears are the best out of New Zealand and D’Anjous are still the old crop out of Washington.

Figs: Figs are available but very expensive and the quality is poor.  Some warm weather will change things for California fig growers.

Grapes: New crop Coachella grapes are in full harvest and the quality is good.  There are much cheaper grapes from Mexico and you will see aggressive pricing on these grapes.

Organic Fruit

Apples: Organic apples out of the USA are winding down.  Availability is low on all sizes and varieties.  September and October of this year is when you can expect to see a new crop coming out of the northwest.

Pears: Organic pears are also winding down.  I am hearing that we will keep going for the next week or two and then there will be a gap in availability until California Bartletts start in late July.  After California we will be pulling organic pears out of the northwest when their season starts in September or October.

Stone Fruit: With the mild, wet weather we are continuing to have it seems as if summer is almost refusing to come.  This is pushing back the timetable on stone fruit.  Although product is available the sequence of varieties is slower than normal and volume is still light which is keeping prices higher than they should be by this time of the year.

Plums: California plums are beginning to make their appearance in the market.  Some of the early varieties are only “so-so” in taste.  The one plum with good flavor is the Flavorosa. Peaches and nectarines have been good but we are still waiting for the larger sizes to peak.

Pineapple: The last few weeks have been wet with overcast skies in Hawaii.  This has led to greener looking fruit.

Fun facts about Pineapples:

• It takes 18 months for a pineapple plant to yield one piece of fruit.

• It takes an additional 8-12 months to produce the second piece of fruit.

• There are only 2 pieces of “packable” fruit from each plant.

• New plants come from cutting the crown off of an old plant and planting that crown directly into the ground.

• Pineapples are planted and harvested entirely by hand.

Mangoes: Mangoes are in transition moving north into Sinaloa, Mexico.  Availability and quality on the Haden variety is hit and miss whereas the Tommy Atkins variety is plentiful in 8 and 9 count boxes.  There are some Kents available but they are green and supply is limited. Altaufo Mangoes are available and have been clean for the most part.  The best quality and supply is seen in the 14, 16 and 18 count packs.

Watermelon: Watermelons are plentiful and cutting beautifully!  Cost by the bin is around $130.00.  The east coast is having a good year in terms of quality which is resulting in less east coast demand for west coast product.  This dynamic is keeping prices in check.

Pureheart watermelons are good and should be coming out of the USA in the next week or so.  Expect to see 8 count melons cutting the best.

Varietal melons (Crenshaw, Canary, Galia, Pink Honeydews, Santa Claus) are starting up out of Huron and are cutting with plenty of sugar.  Tuscan Cantaloupe (Heirloom Cantaloupe) is coming out of Mexico and has been very decent.  Growers seem to be peaking on smaller sizes as 12 counts are the most prevalent.

Asparagus: Delta grass is done and Salinas is still harvesting.  Production has started in the northwest but for now the best quality is in Salinas. 

Broccoli: The market on Broccoli 18’s and crowns is up and should continue to remain with cost in the high teens for at least the next week or two.

Basil: Due to poor weather conditions, especially the lack of heat and sunshine in the valley, the local production of basil has been slow.  Availability is still very limited.

Okra: Local okra will be in the market as soon as the weather warms up!

Grape and Cherry Tomatoes: Grape tomatoes are now shipping out of Baja Mexico. The fruit is strong with nice, even color.  Cherry tomato quality and volume has been lagging behind the grape tomatoes.  Supply will be spotty and quality has been “up and down.”

Vine Ripe & Roma Tomatoes: Production of vine ripe and roma tomatoes has moved mainland Mexico to Baja.  So far the quality of both has been very good.  Look for good quality to continue as more growers get into higher production. 

Red, White and Yukon Potatoes: Arizona will finish packing on June 6th on both Red and Yukon Potatoes.  Bakersfield has been up and running for one week but the results have been mixed.  You should expect the color on these Red Potatoes to be lighter.  Also, the recent rains will cause the White and Yukon Potatoes to be darker in color than normal.

Onions: Onions have started to transition from Brawley to Bakersfield and further north.  The first arrivals from this northern product have been disappointing.  The yellow onions had poor skin sets with staining.  The White Onions showed greening with occasional thick green necks.  The Italian Sweet Red Onions have fared the best and are in good supply.

Organic Produce News 5/25/2011

The CA varietal citrus season is coming to a close.  We’ll continue to have Star Ruby Grapefruit out of the desert.  All districts are shipping new crop Valencias.  They will continue to sweeten with each pick.

We’ve got you covered on Strawberries, Blueberries and Raspberries moving into the holiday weekend.  We’ve got excellent supply on all varieties with excellent sugar and color.

Grape season has begun.  We’ll only be selling domestic grapes this season.  We’ve got Flames and Perlettes.  Currently they’re coming out of Cochella.

Stonefruit is in its beginning stages.    Early season prices are strong as the market searches for equilibrium.  Expect Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Nectarines all to be here by next week!

We’ve got bins of both seedless and seeded melons from Cal-O and Heger available.  Both CA grown.  Talk to your salesperson about setting up your bin deliveries for Memorial weekend.

Have you tried the new Super Greens Salad from Organic Girl?  Super Greens is Organic Girl’s most nutritious salad; a blend of baby red chard, baby tat soi, baby spinach, baby green chard and baby arugula.  It’s chocked full of nutrient-rich dark, leafy greens.  Remember that Earl’s is your exclusive source in the Bay Area of Organic Girl Salads.

Although many southern growers are finished with Asparagus, CVP continues out of Salinas u through July 4th.  Quality and supply are excellent.

Carrots, carrots, carrots!  Remember when you used to order carrots and there was just one variety?  Those days are done.  In addition to the “Classic” Orange Carrot  the Black Knight from Tutti Frutti have returned, these dark lovelies pair beautifully with Tutti’s Nantes and Alba’s Rainbow Carrots.

Organic Produce News 4/28/2011

Spring is HERE! Lots of new items!

We’ve got the start of the Spring crop CA Avocados. We just came off one of the largest California Avocado Crops, so remember this new fruit will have lower oil than it did about a month ago. New crop has lower oil content but has excellent flavor; as it matures and stays on the tree the oil content will come up. Spring brings Fuerte Avocado’s. We’ve got some lovely smooth skinned Fuerte’s from Stehly. Their creamy texture and lovely pale green color have superb flavor. In addition to tasting great, it also aids in circulation, lowers cholesterol, dilates blood vessels and acts as an all around anti-oxidant.

PEAS! We’ve got Snaps and English from Tutti Frutti in Lompac, CA. Snaps are a combination of English and Snow Peas and contain the best traits of both: Crisp, tender pods that enclose plump, round peas. English are a perfect treat for an on the go snack, the easy to peel pods reveal a real spring sweet treat!

Tutti Frutti also has Zucchini, Dino and Green Kale available. Check out all the bounty that Tutti Frutti has to offer. We work exclusively with this grower for good reason, he does a wonderful job and you can taste it in everything he grows.

New Crop Potatoes are also in from Tomorrow’s Organic- California grown! We have Red and Gold. They’ve got great color and are very clean. New crop potatoes cook faster than their stored counterparts and also have a much richer flavor. They don’t need to cook as long and don’t need as much seasoning-perfect for the grill!

The Easter Bunny brought us lovely Rhubarb from the Pacific Northwest. It pairs well with the abundant supply of Strawberries we’ve been having and will continue to have. Strawberries and Rhubarb display well with each other, great as a duo in pies, jams and chutneys…the possibilities are endless. Expect some major Mother’s Day promotions from us on Strawberries!

In Blueberry news, we’re continuing with Blues from Forbidden and the quality continues to be excellent. If you haven’t tried these gems, do NOT miss out!

Produce News 4/21/2011

Grape and Cherry Tomatoes: The Grape and Cherry Tomatoes are a little ahead of Roma Tomatoes in availability and we are using some of them now. Look for aggressive pricing opportunities on these two items in the near future.

Vine Ripe & Roma Tomatoes: We should start to see a few Roma Tomatoes from Baja next week which should also provide some price relief. As the volume of these tomatoes increases we should also see an improvement in the quality. The big news in tomatoes is that Oceanside Pole will not have any tomatoes this season. Oceanside Pole is one of the largest growers of vine ripe tomatoes in the western United States so their decision not to plant may have a major impact on the tomato market later this year.

Red and Yukon Potatoes: Florida potatoes are winding down as bad weather on the east coast forces an abrupt end to their season. Varietal potatoes out of southern California are experiencing quality issues due to a freeze three weeks ago. Arizona product is scheduled to start around May 2nd.

Onions: Vidalia onions from Georgia have now started! The first arrival this week was excellent. Now is the time to promote this onion. Italian Sweet Red Onions are also now available. They are grown in Mexico and the flavor is GREAT! eaches and plums available out of Chile I believe it is time to call it a season. Chilean stone fruit is starting to cut dark on the inside and if not eaten while hard they become mealy as they ripen. Grapes are still good and will continue for about 3-4 more weeks.

Produce News 3/17/2011

Chilean Fruit: Although there are still plenty of nectarines, peaches and plums available out of Chile I believe it is time to call it a season. Chilean stone fruit is starting to cut dark on the inside and if not eaten while hard they become mealy as they ripen. Grapes are still good and will continue for about 3-4 more weeks.

Berries: Strawberries are currently coming out of Oxnard, Santa Maria and (believe it or not) even a few from the Salinas/Watsonville areas. As long as the weather is good the quality will be good. Blackberries are still rolling in from Mexico. Blueberries are coming to us from Chile in amply volume; however, it will soon be time to turn to the new California crop.

Citrus: Sumo Mandarins are the new kid on the block and they were a big hit!! The San Jose Mercury did a story on them in their food section and the SF Chronicle will do the same next season. Unfortunately, this new and tasty bit of citrus is done for the year, but we have Pixie Tangerines from the Ojai Valley to fill in the void.

Asparagus: Salinas and delta asparagus are in full production now and should be fairly inexpensive as long as Mexican asparagus also remains available. When Mexican supplies finish up in the next 7-14 days you will see prices creep up on local asparagus.

Melons: Cantaloupes, honeydews and watermelons are still coming to us from Central America and Mexico. As soon as I hear starting dates for Arizona and/or California melons I will let all of you know.

Apples: The only change in the apple world is that some varieties have finished for this season. Those varieties include Honeycrisp, Pippin and Rome apples.

Lettuce: Prices are dropping quickly as new areas start production. Quality seems to be improving as well.

Broccoli and Cauliflower: Both of these items are now coming from “local” growers in the Salinas and Santa Maria areas of California. The quality is good and prices are down.

The only items that continue to remain expensive are bell peppers, squash, cucumbers and eggplant. It is only a matter of time until we see lower prices on these items as well. Watermelons The watermelon market has tightened up! Production is changing regions and is moving north in Mexico. Expect to see prices rise and availability tighten up for the next 2-3 weeks.

Mangoes: Peruvian Kent Mangoes are just about done. There are still some available in the market but you should expect to see Mexican Tommy Atkins and Haden varieties in the coming weeks.

Altaufo Mangoes have also been in short supply. Quality is marginal and availability has been hit and miss with freight being a factor as well. The market price has been higher in LA than in this region so good quality mangoes are not making it this far north.

Purehearts: Pureheart watermelons are available in the market although quality is questionable due to the freeze a few weeks ago. Most wholesalers are ordering just what they need keeping inventory close and on a day-to-day basis. Yellow flesh watermelons are also available but they have the same quality issues as the purehearts – hit and miss due to the cold weather during the maturing stages of growth.

Tomatoes: Romanita Cherry Tomatoes & Tesoro Romas Romanitas are out of production for the foreseeable future and the test planting of Roma Tesoros is over until early August. I will keep you posted on their return.

Vine Ripe & Roma Tomatoes We will continue to ride a pricing roller coaster for romas and vine ripe tomatoes for at least two more weeks. While the quality on vine ripes has remained good the supplies are dropping in volume. Roma tomatoes are also seeing a drop in volume due to the freeze in Mexico last month. Some shippers in Baja are projecting that harvesting can begin again in 14-21 days if the weather cooperates.

Grape Tomatoes Florida has started with better volume than expected and this is reducing the demand for grape tomatoes out of Mexico. This should result in some measure of price relief over the next few weeks. Look for the quality to remain strong.

Hawaiian Pineapples: Dole is currently harvesting their D-30 variety which has a beautiful golden shell and tastes great.

Red and Yukon Potatoes: Red & Yukon potatoes will continue to ship out of Florida for the next six weeks although the supply of Yukons is somewhat limited. Yukon creamers have been virtually non-existent and growers are reporting that the creamers are not reaching the correct level of maturity. This means the skin is failing to set properly so after a day or two the skin begins to peel off and the potatoes turn soft. Fortunately, the supply of Red Potatoes remains strong.

Organic Produce News 3/15/2011

From Earl's Organic Produce

We’re continuing to see excellent flavor profiles in Navels, Minneolas, Pummelos, and Murcotts. Blood Oranges are particularly tasty this week. We’re carrying the Moro variety currently. Moro’s are the most predictable and reliably colored of the blood oranges. The internal flesh is deep red at maturity and can even deepen to a dark purple when properly ripened on the tree. These low acid, high flavored bloods are where it’s at! Some may be thrown off by their gory name, but nonetheless, blood oranges reign supreme among all citrus fruit. With each bite the flavor features a less acidic, sweeter orange with berry notes. It has been often described in taste as an orange being kissed by a raspberry, yum! The pigment that makes these oranges "bloody" comes from a health-promoting phytonutrientz called anthocyanins found in other red fruits and flowers, they are found to strengthen the immune system and lungs, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cataracts. The color of a blood orange's flesh can vary from pink to burgundy and depending on the variety. External colors may also be dark washes of red, resembling a sunset-like exterior. Be sure to try some and sample them out for your customers to enjoy. Rucker is finished with their Ruby Grapefruits, look for Star Ruby’s to come on next week. While the Ruby’s flesh is a light pink color, the Star Ruby’s have a deep red internal color and excellent flavor.

We’ll continue to see Blueberries out of Chile until the end of the month. Strawberries, Blueberries and Rapsberries are coming out of Oxnard and Baja, with increased temperatures projected, we’ll see a steady supply and prices decrease a bit- fingers crossed for this continued weather!

Have you tried the new crop Bartlett’s and Red Bartlett’s from Argentina? They are lovely!

Warmer weather in Gonzales has finally given Asparagus the jump start it needs. Production will increase next week, look for the price drop.

The end of March is when growers transition from Coachella and the desert regions back to both Salinas and Central Valley’s. We do not expect this transition from one growing region to another to be a smooth one. Expect to see gaps with many leafy products like Lettuces, Kales, Chards. You’ve probably already noticed the gap in availability of Spinach- expect that to continue until the end of the month from Cal-O.

Still no news on Eggplant, it will continue to be scarce. We’ll keep you posted. The price of Zucchini will continue to decrease next week, keep featuring it in your departments! Cedar Mills is back in production of Cluster Tomatoes after a gap the past few weeks, as always, the quality is excellent.

Produce News 2/7/2011


Though not all reports are in, the freeze of last week is of historic size. Record low temperatures in the Imperial and Yuma Valleys, Northern Mexico and the mid Baja peninsula. Basically if a veg crop was not in a heated green house there was damage. Greenhouse crops were protected – all open field crops were severely damaged. What a difference a week makes – last week all tomatoes on ad and historic low prices – that has all changed now…

All Salad mix components and more tender leafy crops like lettuce, radish and spinach have some degree of damage and still being evaluated – epidural peel and tip burn will appear, mildew will follow as temps rise back up to normal - prorates expected – greens like kales and chards are hardier and not damaged.

Broccoli and Cauliflower crops were not affected.

Summer squash: Except for some planting in southern Baja - seems to be pretty much destroyed. Younger plantings under row cover were spared – look for very weak supplies and very high pricing for at least 2-3 weeks.

Cukes which were already tight will be even harder to come by – very few shippers to begin with – look for prices around $50 a box.

Asparagus: Brock and other growers in the San Luis valley of Mexico (barely 30 miles from Yuma) froze – crowns not damaged and will regrow spears – short supplies for 10 days – Gonzales CA – Coastal View Produce on the other hand saw record high temps and picked this weekend!!!

Colored Bells: Typically greenhouse grown and not affected by frost.

Green Bells: Greenhouse grown not affected – field grown was – market up a bit.

Red grape cherry toms: Some field some greenhouse – prices way up – volume way down except for some Baja produce – Del Cabo affected and has raised prices.

Beefsteak tomatoes: All greenhouse grown – not affected Roma – both field and greenhouse – prices way up – volume tight Heirlooms – price way up – growing very slow in shade houses and greenhouses – again tight supplies.

ADS and PROMOS: We expect veg offerings to be very few as growers struggle with the financial impact of this freeze.

On a final note the early warm weather veg out of the southern Imperial Valley of CA – (example Heger) – summer squash, melons cukes etc froze also – it is uncertain if it is still early enough to replant As always we will continue to keep you informed and try to make the choices that will keep us all going in the following weeks.

Produce News 2/2/2011

Chilean Stone Fruit: Cherries are done with the exception of a few stragglers with questionable quality. Nectarines and peaches should continue for a little longer. Apricots are done; however, you may see Australian Apricots are beginning to make an appearance.

Berries: With the good weather we have been experiencing the quality of strawberries out of Oxnard has been very good and prices are dropping. The Chilean blueberry and Mexican blackberry seasons are starting to wind down which will result in price increases for both of these items.

Citrus: California navels and Texas grapefruit are at their peaks. Satsuma Mandarins are almost done for the year, but there are plenty of Murcotts and Minneolas. Don’t forget, those delicious Pixie Tangerines are right around the corner!

Avocados: There are some California avocadoes starting to hit the market. It is early in the season so keep in mind that a few days of gas will be needed to bring on the ripening process.

Melons: Melons are a challenge to get excited about these days. They look good, eat “fair” and they are not inexpensive.

Grapes: There are plenty of grapes out of Chile for the short term. The price is fair although the quality has been lacking this year.

Pears: Northwest pears are coming to an end. Bartletts are done and the Comice variety will be the next to finish up. Chilean Bartletts and/or Packhams are expected to be available for the weekend.

Artichokes, Asparagus & Brussel Sprouts: Artichokes are in moderate to fair supply. Asparagus out of Mexico has been very good. Local Brussel sprouts will finish up this week so new supplies will be coming out of Santa Maria, California or Mexico.

Produce News 1/28/2011

Watermelons: Watermelons are currently in short supply. The quantity of product coming across the border into Nogales is reduced this year but the quality of the product is better than it has been up to this point. Perry, Cactus and Mexicali Rose labels have all been good and as supplies increase you can expect prices to drop.

Mangoes: Mangoes are in good supply with beautiful Kents available from Peru. 8 & 9 count boxes are in abundance. The slow start on last year’s Peruvian mangoes has facilitated both supply and availability for this year.

Purehearts: Pureheart watermelons are available and cutting well. Pricing is in the mid to high teens and sizing is predominately 9’s and 11’s. Prices should remain steady as long as Nogales has a decent supply. Product out of Texas fruit will be higher due to freight costs.

Leaf Lettuces: There are still quality issues in all of the leaf lettuces although the weather in the past few weeks has been excellent for the plants. We are moving between shippers and labels on a daily basis in order to get the best product available, but the blistering you may still see on the leaves if due to the cold snap three to four weeks ago while these plants were young. One Romaine Heart grower/shipper has explained that yield is low due to the freeze in December. The damage to the leaves has to be stripped off in the field which results in more time to harvest and less yield per acre. Both of these factors impact supply and price.

Broccoli: You can expect to see broccoli prices drop next week. Good weather and growing conditions have resulted in better availability. With the addition of Mexican product into the mix pricing should stay lower and steady for the short term future.

Basil: There is a small shortage on basil at this time. If this continues to be the case you should expect to see prices go up as shippers try to lessen the demand.

Bananas: Once again, severe weather is impacting banana supplies from South America. Heavy rain is causing flooding in the growing areas. Chiquita, Del Monte, and Dole all sent letters to their customers forewarning of possible supply issues and price increases. Organic bananas will be in shorter supply as well. We will be looking to Mexico to help bridge the gap in the South American supply.

Vine Ripe & Roma Tomatoes: Mexico is finally beginning to reach their projected volume. Cool weather has slowed production for the last two weeks, but warmer weather is bringing more shippers on line. Look for aggressive ad pricing starting next week.

Hawaiian Pineapples: Hawaii has been experiencing heavy rain for the past two weeks. Between the weather conditions and the normal seasonal decrease in volume at this time of year we expect to experience a tightening of the Hawaiian Pineapple market. You will also see sizing drop to 7 and 8 count per box.

Varietal Potatoes: Northwest Red & Yukon potatoes out of storage are winding down and the first Florida Reds and Yukon potatoes are project to arrive on the west coast around February 12th. Test digs will begin on February 1st to determine the maturity of the potatoes. This will allow growers to make better estimates on the optimum dates for harvesting.

Produce News 1/21/2011

Bananas: Once again, severe weather is impacting banana supplies from South America. Heavy rain is causing flooding in the growing areas. Chiquita, Del Monte, and Dole all sent letters to their customers forewarning of possible supply issues and price increases. Organic bananas will be in shorter supply as well. We will be looking to Mexico to help bridge the gap in the South American supply.

Vine Ripe & Roma Tomatoes: Mexico is finally beginning to reach their projected volume. Cool weather has slowed production for the last two weeks, but warmer weather is bringing more shippers on line. Look for aggressive ad pricing starting next week.

Produce News 12/10/2010

Watermelons: Watermelons are available although they may be tight on some days. They are cutting well.

Mangoes: Ken mangoes are available but they are still too green. There should be mangoes available late next week with more color. Altaufo mangoes are also available but the supply is hit and miss. If smaller fruit works for you there is an ample supply of 20, 22 & 24 ct fruit.

Purehearts: Pureheart watermelons are running strong with 6ct & 8ct melons cutting the best.

Soft Squash: Mexican squash is in full swing and looking nice.

Cauliflower & Broccoli: Cauliflower has hit a peak on price and is on the way down. The price has dropped from $46.00 on Tuesday to $39.00 on Thursday.

Broccoli & Broccoli Crowns: Broccoli 18’s and crowns are showing improvement in quality and availability. Weather has warmed up in the fields and the plants are growing again. Mexican product is available but the quality is suffering. We will stay with local product for as long as possible.

Organic Bananas: Over the last two months Central and South America have experienced more overcast weather than normal for this time of year. This fact, along with slightly cooler temperatures has slowed overall banana production. Since there are far less organic bananas being grown than conventional bananas to begin with, this slow down in production has created an even more significant shortage. We should see availability increase slowly over the next month or two.

Vine Ripe & Roma Tomatoes: Southern California and Baja continue to experience cool weather. On the east coast, a cold front is pushing into Florida causing temperatures to dip toward freezing and below. This will force east coast produce buyers out west in search of beef steak and roma tomatoes. Look for a bit of a rocky road on these two varieties of tomatoes over the next few weeks. It will be about two weeks before tomatoes from the main growing regions in Mexico begin to make their appearance.

Grape Tomatoes: The new crop of grape tomatoes out of Mexico is just starting. Supplies should be available in time for Christmas ads.

Red & Yukon Potatoes: With snow and rain hitting the northwest, quality remains a challenge. Bakersfield has started producing Yukon and White potatoes but the quality on both of these varieties is marginal. The next growing region to start shipping Yukon potatoes will be San Diego. We should start seeing them within the next 5-7 days.

Stone Fruit: There has been some air freight stone fruit around for big money. The first stone fruit shipped by boat is due into LA by late December. Green grapes should start about that time as well.

Berries: Berries are high in cost and will stay that way as long as the weather continues to torture the plants. Some beautiful berries are showing up out of Orange County but the price will be high. Projections are for the mid to high $30 range for one pound clamshells.

Texas Citrus: There are no changes to report in the Texas citrus situation. There have been some limes from Mexico that have shown up with the same condition (SOS or Sweet Orange Scab) so this will mean volatility in the lime market.

Asparagus: Mexican asparagus is done for the year and the entire world is pulling from Peru. Expect this to be reflected in asparagus prices.

Cantaloupes: We will move into off shore cantaloupes next week. Del Monte and Fresh Quest melons will be from Guatemala and then Costa Rica.

The weather is cold, the holidays are here. Once again the east coast pull will impact west coast availability and pricing until just before Christmas on items such as tomatoes, beans, soft squash, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and cabbage.

Produce News 11/9/2010

Texas Grapefruit: Shipments of TEXAS GRAPEFRUIT to California are now suspended by CDFA after the discovery of a fruit infection called Sweet Orange Scab (SOS). We still have good fruit through the end of this week, but will move to exclusively Florida Grapefruit in the interim. Hopefully the infected fruit can be sourced and isolated and shipments will resume soon.

Produce News 11/4/2010

Pearl Onion Medley: We now have red, yellow and white pearl onions packed together in one vex bag. This pearl medley will be available through the holidays.

Varietal Potatoes: The first Bakersfield White and Yukon potatoes have arrived. The quality just does not compare to the northwest potatoes at this time.

Vine Ripe & Roma Tomatoes: Quality and price continue to improve on both of these items as more shippers begin picking and new fields reach their peak for harvesting. The COO is Mexico.

Cherry Tomatoes: Los Pinos has started with good quality hot house cherry tomatoes out of Mexico.

Produce News 10/28/2010

Tomatoes: California vine ripe tomatoes are winding up and we will begin using Baja tomatoes by the end of the week. Roma tomatoes are also moving south and with occasional rain and overcast skies the search for good quality will be a challenge.

Grape tomatoes are in good supply once again due to three different growing regions coming into production simultaneously in Florida. This has eased the buying pressure from the east coast while also creating a favorable turn in pricing.

Romanitas will continue to be readily available and pricing will remain favorable for the coming week.? Cherry tomatoes are in limited supply and quality issues continue.

Local heirloom toms are winding down very fast. Good Mexican product should hit the market soon.

Mushrooms: Look for a continued mix of both Canadian and domestic mushrooms. The large mushrooms will be predominately Canadian and mediums will be a mixed due to a short supply in both COO’s. Monterey Mushroom Company has experienced a problem with their crimini growing rooms which has cut supplies and results in a temporary increase in the price as we source criminis from other vendors.

Berries: Driscoll Raspberries remain available and pricing has been steady. Blackberries (Mexico) and blueberries (Argentina) have been available and the quality has been good.

California strawberries have been heavily impacted by the recent rains. They are available in 8x1# clamshells only – no pints. Remember that rain weakens the staying power of berries so order accordingly.

Mangoes: Mangoes are coming from Central and South America. Color and condition are great but the flavor is “just okay.”

Melons: We are still in California watermelons and will remain there as long as the melons cut well. Mexican fruit is available but the melons cut pale and are light on sugar. Due to the late summer here in California the Arizona season for watermelon may get skipped altogether and we may move straight from California to Mexico.

Cantaloupes are coming out of the Arizona desert. Quality is decent.?Honeydews and pink dews are coming from the AZ desert and Mexico. Again quality is decent.

Persimmons: Persimmons are readily available and the quality improves each day.

Grapes: California grapes are coming out of storage and the quality is good. Look for supplies to tighten up and pricing to increase.

Apples & Pears: Lake county Bartletts will be done this week then we will switch to the northwest which is in full swing with apples and pears. Look for the quality to be good and the pricing to drop as more crops are harvested.

Citrus: The Chilean ship with navel oranges is being held pending FDA inspection. We will have them when the product is released. California navels will be available in mid November.

• Clementines in 5# boxes are due to start between November 1-18.

• Texas grapefruit is in full swing.

• Tem and leaf satsumas are three weeks away.

• California valencia oranges will continue for 1-2 weeks then we will be switching to Texas fruit.

• Lemons – We are currently using Mexican lemons and will stay there until District 3 (Santa Barbara area) starts producing. Pricing should improve when we move to District 3.

Stone fruit: Domestic stone fruit is done for the year. We will advise when Chilean fruit is beginning to ship. Traditionally, Chilean fruit starts shipping by boat near Thanksgiving. Air freighted fruit may be available sooner but expect the cost to reflect the high cost of shipping by air.

Persimmons & Pomegranates: Persimmons are readily available and the quality improves each day. Pomegranates are plentiful and good this year.

Organic Blueberries: Organic Blues should be available out of Mexico in the first or second week of November.

Squash & Figs: Figs are available weather permitting. Soft squash is now coming out of Mexico.

Seasonal Items

Candy apples are available. If you order any, please specify: caramel, caramel with nuts, candied and wacky apples (caramel with sprinkles).

Cranberries: Available out of the northeast US.

Chestnuts: Italian chestnuts are hitting the market. Pricing is high but traditionally drops as the season progresses.

Avocados: California avocados are expected to be available for the next 3-4 weeks. Thereafter supplies will switch to Chilean fruit only.

Artichokes & Asparagus: Artichoke supplies are uncertain – this is a day-to-day issue until the spring. Asparagus is predominately Peruvian.

Other Veggies

Beans: The recent rains killed the local season so we have moved into the desert for supplies.?Corn: Local corn is expected to be available for 7-10 days more. Then we will move to Coachella (California desert).

English Cucumbers: Mexican product is available and cheap but the product has limited shelf life so we are staying with Landmark hot house cucumbers.

Eggplant: Mexican eggplant has started so we will transition to Mexican product.?Green Bells: We are using bells out of Santa Maria and will stay there for the week, weather permitting.

Red Bells: Supplies are tightening until Coachella starts.

Colored Bells: Orange and yellow bells are available out of Mexico and Holland. Mexican product is good and more cost effective while Holland bells are decent and expensive.

Snow Peas & Snap Peas: These are “done” out of California. The new supply is coming out of Peru.

Please keep in mind that we are now in “winter mode” which means it takes two days to receive product from the desert and/or Mexico. Trucks will run late and timely deliveries will be the exception rather than the rule.