Homegrown Organic Farms has enhanced its apricot program for this season as it continues to “define and refine” its supplies of stone fruit to eliminate the peaks and valleys and offer its customer a steady flow of organic offerings throughout the spring and summer.
Stephen Paul, Homegrown Organics
Stephen Paul, stone fruit and blueberry category director for the Porterville, CA-based firm, said that the company’s apricot production will commence in mid-May and run through July. “We will have a better apricot program,” he said, defining “better” as more consistent and more fruit.
In general, Paul said growers have increased their organic plantings of stone fruit with new acreage coming into production for the 2019 season, especially on nectarines and peaches. The new production, he said, should help the industry have a consistent supply of these two stone fruits throughout the season. He wasn’t as confident about organic plum volume being in sync with demand. He said the 2018 season was a difficult one for plum growers, especially after the Fourth of July. Consequently, some plum orchards were pulled as growers rework their own varietal mix. Paul said it is too early to know what varieties and commodities were, or will be, replanted in those orchards.
Homegrown is looking forward to an excellent crop of peaches and nectarines beginning in mid-May. Paul expects harvest to begin between the first and second week of the May. He said early indications are that volume on the front end of the deal will be on the light side, and the start dates will be up to a week later on each variety than last season. He called the timing “normal”, as last year each variety started producing a little earlier than usual.
While the early part of the season will see less fruit, after the Fourth of July, the Homegrown Organic Farms expert said volume should pick up as the later varieties seem to have more fruit on the trees.
Of course, he couched all his predictions with the forewarning that there was at least six weeks between his expectations in late March and the start of the season in mid-May…even longer for the mid-season and late varieties.
Another factor in this year’s production has been the tremendous amount of rain and snow that California has experienced this year. Typically, only about 80 percent of the state’s rainfall comes prior to April 1 each water year (Oct 1 – Sept. 30), but this year most districts already surpassed their yearly average at that point. While every grower is happy to see California finally shed drought status in every district of the state, Paul said the rain itself increases costs for the organic fruit grower. He said significant rainfall when the fruit is maturing can cause problems that require treatment. “For organics, there is no magic wand,” he said. “There are very few solutions. These rains haven’t caused major problem, but they are nuisance rains.”
In the meantime, Paul said Homegrown Organic Farms has a good supply of organic blueberries this spring. While Chile is winding down its production, blueberries are now coming out of Mexico and Homegrown will soon have production from its California fields in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. The California harvest will start to ramp up in mid-April. He marveled at the popularity of blueberries and said increased global production has kept very steady supplies, even in the organic sector.