June 04, 2013

Brace Yourself
for a Bevy of Berries

I had a great visit with Jake Sterino on Friday, May 31, at his Puyallup farm. We have a great eating season ahead of us. Unlike the past two years we have had an excellent spring season for planting and growing Northwest berries and vegetables and we are looking forward to a great year!

(Above: A bee goes to work on a gold raspberry plant at Sterino Farms in Puyallup Friday – raspberries require several visits from bees, so thanks bee!)

We expect to see our first gold raspberries, red raspberries, tayberries and gooseberries arrive in our markets on or before the weekend of June 29-30 – just in time for the Fourth of July holiday. I took a couple pictures while I was there to give you an idea where these berries are currently. If you look closely you can see one of the many thousands of honey bees that are working diligently to pollinate these berries. Thank goodness for bees!! It takes several visits from a bee to properly pollinate raspberries and bees need nice weather to do their best work. So far so good this year and it looks like berries will be early too!

Jake thinks the raspberry season is going to come on fast and furious. Most of the fruit appears to be at the same maturity level, which means that unless something changes, it is all going to ripen at once! Fresh red, black and white currants, a variety of other specialty berries like red and green gooseberries and nectaberries, as well as those beloved blackberries could arrive as early as the first week in July.

There are several other items on the horizon from Jake and his Sterino Farms. We expect to see our first arrival of romaine, red leaf and green leaf lettuces sometime during the week of June 10. Iceberg is a little later but not far off, Jake thinks it could be ready by the week of June 24. Green cabbage is expected to be ready the week of June 15 with red and savoy cabbages following shortly thereafter. Fennel is still a month or more away as are several other items Jake grows such as leeks, variety pumpkins, winter squash, celery, sweet corn, green beans, zucchini and yellow squash! Whew!

(Above: A gold raspberry field at Sterino Farms)

(Above: Gooseberries ripening on the plant at Sterino Farms)

We had such a great year with the Northwest-grown Honeycrisp apples that we hated to see it end, but fortunately, for the first time, we are able to import Honeycrisp from Chile. These apples are brought in to the USA in 600-pound bins that are then sorted in Eastern Washington for quality, grade and sizing. They’re then packed for shipping to market. We accept only the top grade.

Vidalia sweet onions are in the markets as we speak. Their quality is outstanding this year. Walla Walla sweet onions are being “cured” right now. The curing process is critical to give the onion time to dry and firm up the outer skin to ship properly without damage. The arrivals are expected sometime during the week of June 17, another just-in-time item for the Fourth of July holiday!

We have had excellent sweet corn from our partners in California’s Coachella Valley. When Memorial Day arrives, the weather is way too warm there and we have to move north for our corn. Over the past week or so we have moved to Huron, Ca., in order to bridge the gap until we can get the new crop of sweet corn from G&S Farms in Brentwood, Ca. , which is north again, between Berkeley and Stockton. We are loading our first bi-color variety corn today, and should have it in our markets Friday if all goes well with loading and transportation. The good news is we will have yellow, white and bi-color from Brentwood next week. We support G&S Farms’ Brentwood sweet corn until Jake Sterino harvests his corn in the Puyallup area in mid-August. Even Jake thinks Glenn’s (G&S Farms) corn is the best corn available – bar none!

California blueberries are currently at their peak with good quality and volume. We are hearing that Northwest Oregon and Eastern Washington should start producing sometime around June 20. Early reports from Sakuma Brothers in Mount Vernon are for blueberries to start around the July 10!

Next week I will be traveling to Eastern Washington to visit Bigfork Orchards and then head north to Chelan County to check out a couple other late-season cherry growers. At this point, the general message for the early variety cherries from Eastern Washington is not good. Many of the growers are reporting heavy rain damage, at least in their early varieties. I will have more information after my visit.

We will also be traveling to California later this month to explore and select fruit from our partner growers for the Fourth of July holiday. We will be visiting Family Tree Farms south of Fresno to check out the peaches, nectarines and pluots. We then head north to Bentwood to visit Glenn at G&S Farms to see how the corn is doing and then on to Durst Farms just north of Sacramento to check on the organic variety cherry tomatoes that should be ready by mid-July. I will share what we experience as soon as I return … maybe sooner!

Have a great day!    

Posted in Fresh Talker | Leave a comment

Leave a Comment