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Northwest Farmers
Feeling (Too Much) Heat

I visited Sterino Farms’ raspberry field in the Puyallup Valley on the last Friday of June and the news isn’t good. Jake Sterino tells me, in fact, that this year is a bust with a crop at about 25 percent of normal. He suspects an early freeze last November is to blame, although he’s not absolutely certain.

We are using Hayton Farms in Skagit Valley and another grower to try to fill in our raspberry needs, but those farms also are experiencing crops on the short side. In normal years, the peak of Northwest red raspberry season would fall around July 10. But I think we’ll be completely done by that date this year.

Blackberries 2 - Copy

Blackberries should be great through weekend.

On the other hand, blackberries have been peaking over the past several days and it looks like we’ll have great numbers well into the July 4 weekend off Sterino Farms. But look for that crop to begin winding down sooner rather than later. Jake says he already has started harvesting varieties that would typically not be ready until August. A quote from Jake:  “This hot weather is good for nothing as far as farming goes.”

Blueberries from the Skagit Valley continue to pick up in volume and will peak over the next two weeks – if the excessive heat doesn’t hang on long enough to cook them. So once again, my take on the 2015 Northwest berry season is that is likely to come to a screeching halt without warning. The extended forecast is calling for more of the same hot, dry weather well into next week!

We will be getting our first melons from Turlock Fruit Company in central California possibly as early as this holiday weekend, followed by green honeydew and then –  my personal favorite – orange honeydew the following week.  Just an FYI, owner Don Smith said they cut back on conventionally grown cantaloupe acreage this year because of water restrictions so he could maintain his commitment in organic cantaloupe, organic mini-melons and the other varieties we enjoy during July and early August. I should add that while the orange honeydew is my favorite, the sharyln and galia varieties are close seconds.

Cherries are peaking this week just in time for the Independence Day holiday with good supply in both the Rainier and the dark red varieties. Rainiers will begin to wind down next week, and the general consensus from the grower is that the heat and early start to the Rainier crop this year was disappointing at best. The red cherries should continue through the first two or three weeks in July, but here again, growers expect an early end to these as well.

The California-grown peaches and nectarines in our Markets now are eating great. A surprising benefit of the drought has been higher sugar levels and more intense flavor. We have an excellent value on the Big Board Buys that broke today on the organic Sweet Dream peaches – they’re awesome! We still have the giant white peaches from Family Tree Farms, too – not the same variety as we had a couple weeks ago, but every bit as good. I expect the yellow peach pie donut peaches to wind down as we move through next week, but in the meantime the ones in our Markets are great!

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Plumogranate Plumcots

If you are looking for a plum, try the Plumogranate Plumcot  – they’re about as good as it gets. Walla Walla sweet onions are in the Markets and we went with a colossal size to fit that burger on the grill. One slice should cover it. We also have something new arriving tomorrow – called a Blooming BBQ Onion. This onion comes complete with seasoning and grilling instructions. This may be a healthier alternative to the traditional deep-fried “blooming onions” you may have tried. Simple and easy and if you already have the barbecue fired up, it’s really nothing to toss one of these on the side.

Have a great and safe Holiday weekend … Joe

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