It’s hard to believe this is the first blog entry of 2020! I sincerely apologize for the gap. Due to the pandemic, all our attention over the past few months has been on creating a safe environment for our customers and staff. As we ease into whatever the new normal will be, I feel comfortable reigniting this blog to share what’s happening in fresh produce over the next few weeks.
Northwest Strawberries Delivered Daily
First and foremost, Northwest strawberries are here! We received our first deliveries from Hayton Farms on May 30, and from Our Family Farm on May 29. These strawberries are picked first thing each morning and are usually delivered to the markets by mid-morning. Keep in mind that the strawberries from Hayton farms are what are called “June bearing” and the season for this variety is relatively short, usually lasting only about 18 days start to finish. The strawberries from Our Family Farm are an “ever bearing” variety that produces in June, rests in July and the starts back up in mid-August and can run well into September. Keep in mind that when it comes to locally grown strawberries weather makes a huge difference in supply. Keep an eye on the weather… if we get any significant rainfall in the Mount Vernon area it usually results in a supply gap for 24 to 72 hours depending on the severity of the rain. For this reason we will continue to offer California strawberries just in case we can’t get local for a short period.
Future Looks Bright for Sterino Berries
Sterino RaspberriesOn another Northwest berry offering, we visited Jake Sterino in Puyallup last week. Jake supplies all of our Northwest variety berries such as blackberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, nectar berries and tayberries. Jake’s best guess at that time was for a late start this year. Look for the obsidian blackberry (my favorite), the tayberry and the early gold raspberry to start later in June. Jake thinks the red raspberry will not start in any volume until very early July this year. By the time we are in the second week of July these berries are at their peak and we will have our widest selection. As far as the tayberry and the obsidian blackberry goes—these are early varieties with excellent flavor, but they do come and go quickly. Best guess is that once they start we have supply for about 10 days and then it is on to other varieties through the month of July. Jake does think we are going to have an excellent season this year provided the weather holds out during the harvest period.
Cherry Season in Full Swing
Cherries is our next topic. We’ve had great quality fruit from California for the past couple weeks, but now it’s time to get ready for Northwest grown! We visited Dan Gunkel at Gunkel Orchards last Thursday, May 28, and it looks like he is ready to start harvesting red cherries later this week. The harvests will be sorted, packed and chilled for pickup next Monday and in our markets next Tuesday if all goes well. Dan will start with the Chelan variety, and move quickly to his Brooks variety. At this point we are looking for his Private Reserve variety to arrive around June 25. We will also be working with Chelan Fresh for supply in other dark red cherries for the month of July and rainier cherries as soon as they start in late June.
Additional Northwest Harvest Reports
Other news in Northwest harvests is we’re starting the locally grown leaf lettuces, cilantro and rhubarb. Unfortunately, Northwest asparagus is all but done. It was a good season as far as quality goes, but due to COVID-19 the harvest and packing facilities were hugely impacted to support social distancing and a safe work environment for their workers. In keeping with our commitment to not go further from home for quality product, look for more Northwest grown items to come on line as we move through June.
Last but not least for this instalment is an update on sweet corn. We are currently in a transition period in growing areas from the Coachella Valley to a brief stop in Huron California and finally landing in Brentwood, Calif., on or around June 10 with G&S Farms for the remainder of the California sweet corn season. For Northwest crops, Jake Sterino already has corn in the ground and his best guess for the first harvests is early August.
Have a great week and be safe – Joe