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U.S.: Oneonta pear harvest to kick off in August

Wenatchee, Washington-based Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers (OSRG) expects to soon be shipping “exceptional” fruit with a new crop of pears around the corner. PEars - Oneonta

In a release, OSRG marketing director Scott Marboe said the Bartlett harvest would start in the first week of August with the first loads going out on the week of August 8.

“The Bartletts are beautiful this year,” Marboe said.

“They’re clean, with great size, and we have lots of 90 and larger fruit. Also, our Starkrimson will start close to the same harvest window, giving consumers a great selection of snack-perfect pears.”

In addition to the earlier varieties, Marboe said the Anjous were exceptionally clean this year.

“We did have a drop during the spring heat, so volume will be down in the Hood River area,” he said.

“However, the great size and clean crop will make up for that,” he said, adding the Bosc crop which was expected to start shipping in September and looked great so far.

“Comice are down in volume, but the fruit look to have excellent size, and they will start August 29.”

Red and Green Anjous will start Sept. 12, followed by Seckels and Forelles on Sept. 19. For the Seckel variety, a new 2-pound pouch bag is being offered this year.

“A number of people were asking for additional varieties in pouch bags to add to displays,” Marboe said.

“[The] Pouch is proving to be a great impulse buy in the pear category, and many of our top retail customers are seeing added sales and category increases when displayed.

“We’re looking forward to a great pear season, and we have some exciting promotions lined up for this fall.”

www.freshfruitportal.com

FreshFruitPortal.com

Stemilt’s Kyle Mathison orchestrates cherry harvest under a full moon

Stemilt-Moon-Cherries--pouch-bag

In the life of a cherry grower, it’s not every day that everything aligns just as you would want them to. However, for fourth-generation Stemilt cherry grower Kyle Mathison and his high-altitude Moon cherries, this year’s harvest is shaping up exactly the way he would prefer if he could have scripted it.

That’s because July 18 will have a full moon. This is the lunar phase that Mathison prefers to harvest his cherries under, as he finds the extra gravitational pull from the moon boosts his cherry trees’ ability to deliver energy to the growing fruits in the form of carbohydrates. The result is jumbo-sized cherries with higher sugars, acids, and aromatics to deliver a memorable dessert eating experience.

“There’s no better time to harvest cherries than around a full moon,” Mathison, who has been farming cherries on Stemilt Hill in Wenatchee, WA, for more than four decades, said in a press release. “A full moon brings energy with it, and that energy pulls nutrients from the roots of cherry trees right into the fruit. The result is large and firm cherries that are truly world famous. Each cherry explodes with flavor when you bite into it.”Stemilt-Moon-Cherries--pouch-bag

Mathison just started harvesting cherries from his unique Amigos Orchards in Wenatchee, located 2,640 feet above sea level and higher, or literally a half mile closer to the moon. These cherries are the latest freshly harvested cherries in Washington state, and though coming off the tree earlier than they typically do, will still take Stemilt’s cherry harvest into early August. In a normal year where Washington cherries start in June, cherry harvest at Amigos would go into September.

The start of harvest at Amigos also signals the start of Stemilt’s A Half Mile Closer to the Moon cherry program, where premium cherries from high-altitudes are packed into specially marked pouch bags to offer retailers with a unique story to share with shoppers, and a grand finale to cherry season. This is the fifth year Stemilt has packed “Moon cherries.”

Named after the Spanish word for friends, the Amigos orchards overlook the Columbia River and town of Wenatchee not too far from the family’s original homestead on Stemilt Hill. In the cherry world, any orchard planted above 1,800 feet is considered high-elevation. Having already surpassed that height, Mathison began planting cherries at even higher elevations in 2002 in order to stretch the availability of Stemilt cherries.

New this year, Stemilt has a Moon cherry video to help retailers tell the farm to fork story of these special cherries with their shoppers on social and digital channels. The video features Kyle and West Mathison and the unique geography, farming practices, and unmatched passion Kyle has for growing Moon cherries.

Not only is his 2016 Moon cherry harvest aligning with the ideal lunar cycle, but the growing conditions all summer long have been a dream at Amigos. Mathison’s crop will produce jumbo-sized cherries with high firmness, sugars, acids and true dessert qualities.

“They are going to wow consumers,” Roger Pepperl, Stemilt marketing director, said in the release. “Sweetheart, Skeena and Staccato are the varieties grown by Kyle at Amigos, and all three have benefitted from near-perfect growing conditions this year. Warm but not hot days followed by cool nights and the added benefit of being fueled by Kyle’s prescription natural fertilizer made at his nearby compost farm result in fantastic cherries. We’re excited to deliver consumers with this final and memorable taste of Stemilt cherries through our branded A Half Mile Closer to the Moon program. It’s an exciting way to finish off another great cherry season.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

WP Rawl donates 500 cases of fresh produce to Harvest Hope

This Christmas, WP Rawl made the holidays a little merrier for families serviced by Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, SC, through a donation of fresh produce to the local food bank.

Fresh produce is oftentimes hard to come by or absent in food banks across the country, in particular during the holidays. WP Rawl donated 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce to Harvest Hope, which included apples, oranges, regular and sweet potatoes, celery and onion mix, collards, butternut squash, cabbage, squash and zucchini.DSC 0912Over the holidays WP Rawl helped families in need with a donation of 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce.

“This donation of packed fruits and vegetables for our clients during the Christmas season is such a thoughtful and generous gift; these boxes will be used throughout our Emergency Food Pantries and Mobile Food Pantries,” Denise Holland, Harvest Hope Food Bank chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Having fresh fruit and vegetables is very important to our clients at this time of year and some have little to no access to it otherwise. I am so thankful for the support from WP Rawl for their help in providing delicious, fresh produce to struggling families in our community.”

The donation is one of several ways that WP Rawl assists Harvest Hope throughout the year. This summer, the local leafy greens grower and shipper hosted the Katie’s Krops Camp at their headquarters in Pelion, SC, which included a service project at the food bank. For the project, the campers built a raised bed-vegetable garden with 12 beds and various types of vegetables per bed, which is meant to serve as a sustainable source of fresh produce for Harvest Hope. WP Rawl hopes that this holiday donation will supplement the vegetables they are already growing on site. The donation was made in honor of all of WP Rawl’s customers and employees as a thank you for their support.

“As a family and as a company, it is important to us to share with our global and local communities,” Ashley Rawl, vice president of sales, marketing and product development at WP Rawl, said in the press release. “It is so satisfying to see that the Harvest Hope staff and volunteers have enjoyed maintaining the raised beds that the Katie’s Krops campers built this summer and we are happy to continue to help them in various ways throughout the year.”

WP Rawl’s year-long mission to end hunger leads them to give back to other organizations such as RAMP, the Rockin’ Appalachian Mom Project and Katie’s Krops.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

WP Rawl donates 500 cases of fresh produce to Harvest Hope

This Christmas, WP Rawl made the holidays a little merrier for families serviced by Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, SC, through a donation of fresh produce to the local food bank.

Fresh produce is oftentimes hard to come by or absent in food banks across the country, in particular during the holidays. WP Rawl donated 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce to Harvest Hope, which included apples, oranges, regular and sweet potatoes, celery and onion mix, collards, butternut squash, cabbage, squash and zucchini.DSC 0912Over the holidays WP Rawl helped families in need with a donation of 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce.

“This donation of packed fruits and vegetables for our clients during the Christmas season is such a thoughtful and generous gift; these boxes will be used throughout our Emergency Food Pantries and Mobile Food Pantries,” Denise Holland, Harvest Hope Food Bank chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Having fresh fruit and vegetables is very important to our clients at this time of year and some have little to no access to it otherwise. I am so thankful for the support from WP Rawl for their help in providing delicious, fresh produce to struggling families in our community.”

The donation is one of several ways that WP Rawl assists Harvest Hope throughout the year. This summer, the local leafy greens grower and shipper hosted the Katie’s Krops Camp at their headquarters in Pelion, SC, which included a service project at the food bank. For the project, the campers built a raised bed-vegetable garden with 12 beds and various types of vegetables per bed, which is meant to serve as a sustainable source of fresh produce for Harvest Hope. WP Rawl hopes that this holiday donation will supplement the vegetables they are already growing on site. The donation was made in honor of all of WP Rawl’s customers and employees as a thank you for their support.

“As a family and as a company, it is important to us to share with our global and local communities,” Ashley Rawl, vice president of sales, marketing and product development at WP Rawl, said in the press release. “It is so satisfying to see that the Harvest Hope staff and volunteers have enjoyed maintaining the raised beds that the Katie’s Krops campers built this summer and we are happy to continue to help them in various ways throughout the year.”

WP Rawl’s year-long mission to end hunger leads them to give back to other organizations such as RAMP, the Rockin’ Appalachian Mom Project and Katie’s Krops.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Wholesum Harvest earns ‘Best’ ratings from Whole Foods

Organic grower Wholesum Harvest announced that Whole Foods Market has awarded a “Best” rating to each of the company’s three farms as part of the grocer’s new Responsibly Grown program. The program is designed to help customers make more informed purchases by offering transparency about how their food is grown; it also rewards the growers who are taking steps to protect consumer health and the environment.

A “Best” rating indicates that Wholesum Harvest has demonstrated exceptional efforts to grow responsibly by preserving worker rights and promoting green growing practices — avoiding unhealthy agrochemicals and aggressively pursuing sustainability. Wholesum Harvest met the requirements for a “Best” rating, and even went above the standard by supplying produce that is also certified organic.

“We are honored that Whole Foods Market has recognized our commitment to the environment, our workers and our customers by awarding our farms with ‘Best’ ratings,” Ricardo Crisantes, Wholesum Harvest general manager, said in a press release. “At Wholesum Harvest, our goal is to leave the Earth better than we found it. We’ve taken steps to conserve and reuse water in our greenhouses; we utilize solar energy as much as possible to supply the energy needs for our facilities; and we use natural methods of pest control rather than dangerous chemical pesticides. Additionally, we are Fair Trade Certified because of our work to protect the health, safety and economic interests of our employees and their families, and also to ensure their access to education and affordable housing. We operate our business this way because we know it to be right, but it is always rewarding and encouraging to be recognized for our hard work.”

Whole Foods Market’s Responsibly Grown program can award growers ratings of “Good,” “Better,” or “Best” if they meet certain criteria. The rating system evaluates growers in the following areas: soil health; air, energy and climate; waste minimization; farm worker welfare; water conservation and protection; ecosystems and biodiversity; and advanced pest management. Growers must offer transparency related to the use of GMOs and may not utilize irradiation treatments or biosolids.

In addition, growers earning a “Best” rating must show that they protect pollinator health and demonstrate industry leadership in the areas of pest control and sustainability.

“Wholesum Harvest is proud to provide our customers with produce that is organic, delicious and responsibly grown,” Crisantes said in the release. “We applaud Whole Foods for its efforts to help consumers make informed choices in the produce aisle, while also encouraging growers to make better, healthier choices in their fields and greenhouses.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Wholesum Harvest earns ‘Best’ ratings from Whole Foods

Organic grower Wholesum Harvest announced that Whole Foods Market has awarded a “Best” rating to each of the company’s three farms as part of the grocer’s new Responsibly Grown program. The program is designed to help customers make more informed purchases by offering transparency about how their food is grown; it also rewards the growers who are taking steps to protect consumer health and the environment.

A “Best” rating indicates that Wholesum Harvest has demonstrated exceptional efforts to grow responsibly by preserving worker rights and promoting green growing practices — avoiding unhealthy agrochemicals and aggressively pursuing sustainability. Wholesum Harvest met the requirements for a “Best” rating, and even went above the standard by supplying produce that is also certified organic.

“We are honored that Whole Foods Market has recognized our commitment to the environment, our workers and our customers by awarding our farms with ‘Best’ ratings,” Ricardo Crisantes, Wholesum Harvest general manager, said in a press release. “At Wholesum Harvest, our goal is to leave the Earth better than we found it. We’ve taken steps to conserve and reuse water in our greenhouses; we utilize solar energy as much as possible to supply the energy needs for our facilities; and we use natural methods of pest control rather than dangerous chemical pesticides. Additionally, we are Fair Trade Certified because of our work to protect the health, safety and economic interests of our employees and their families, and also to ensure their access to education and affordable housing. We operate our business this way because we know it to be right, but it is always rewarding and encouraging to be recognized for our hard work.”

Whole Foods Market’s Responsibly Grown program can award growers ratings of “Good,” “Better,” or “Best” if they meet certain criteria. The rating system evaluates growers in the following areas: soil health; air, energy and climate; waste minimization; farm worker welfare; water conservation and protection; ecosystems and biodiversity; and advanced pest management. Growers must offer transparency related to the use of GMOs and may not utilize irradiation treatments or biosolids.

In addition, growers earning a “Best” rating must show that they protect pollinator health and demonstrate industry leadership in the areas of pest control and sustainability.

“Wholesum Harvest is proud to provide our customers with produce that is organic, delicious and responsibly grown,” Crisantes said in the release. “We applaud Whole Foods for its efforts to help consumers make informed choices in the produce aisle, while also encouraging growers to make better, healthier choices in their fields and greenhouses.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Wholesum Harvest earns ‘Best’ ratings from Whole Foods

Organic grower Wholesum Harvest announced that Whole Foods Market has awarded a “Best” rating to each of the company’s three farms as part of the grocer’s new Responsibly Grown program. The program is designed to help customers make more informed purchases by offering transparency about how their food is grown; it also rewards the growers who are taking steps to protect consumer health and the environment.

A “Best” rating indicates that Wholesum Harvest has demonstrated exceptional efforts to grow responsibly by preserving worker rights and promoting green growing practices — avoiding unhealthy agrochemicals and aggressively pursuing sustainability. Wholesum Harvest met the requirements for a “Best” rating, and even went above the standard by supplying produce that is also certified organic.

“We are honored that Whole Foods Market has recognized our commitment to the environment, our workers and our customers by awarding our farms with ‘Best’ ratings,” Ricardo Crisantes, Wholesum Harvest general manager, said in a press release. “At Wholesum Harvest, our goal is to leave the Earth better than we found it. We’ve taken steps to conserve and reuse water in our greenhouses; we utilize solar energy as much as possible to supply the energy needs for our facilities; and we use natural methods of pest control rather than dangerous chemical pesticides. Additionally, we are Fair Trade Certified because of our work to protect the health, safety and economic interests of our employees and their families, and also to ensure their access to education and affordable housing. We operate our business this way because we know it to be right, but it is always rewarding and encouraging to be recognized for our hard work.”

Whole Foods Market’s Responsibly Grown program can award growers ratings of “Good,” “Better,” or “Best” if they meet certain criteria. The rating system evaluates growers in the following areas: soil health; air, energy and climate; waste minimization; farm worker welfare; water conservation and protection; ecosystems and biodiversity; and advanced pest management. Growers must offer transparency related to the use of GMOs and may not utilize irradiation treatments or biosolids.

In addition, growers earning a “Best” rating must show that they protect pollinator health and demonstrate industry leadership in the areas of pest control and sustainability.

“Wholesum Harvest is proud to provide our customers with produce that is organic, delicious and responsibly grown,” Crisantes said in the release. “We applaud Whole Foods for its efforts to help consumers make informed choices in the produce aisle, while also encouraging growers to make better, healthier choices in their fields and greenhouses.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Wholesum Harvest earns ‘Best’ ratings from Whole Foods

Organic grower Wholesum Harvest announced that Whole Foods Market has awarded a “Best” rating to each of the company’s three farms as part of the grocer’s new Responsibly Grown program. The program is designed to help customers make more informed purchases by offering transparency about how their food is grown; it also rewards the growers who are taking steps to protect consumer health and the environment.

A “Best” rating indicates that Wholesum Harvest has demonstrated exceptional efforts to grow responsibly by preserving worker rights and promoting green growing practices — avoiding unhealthy agrochemicals and aggressively pursuing sustainability. Wholesum Harvest met the requirements for a “Best” rating, and even went above the standard by supplying produce that is also certified organic.

“We are honored that Whole Foods Market has recognized our commitment to the environment, our workers and our customers by awarding our farms with ‘Best’ ratings,” Ricardo Crisantes, Wholesum Harvest general manager, said in a press release. “At Wholesum Harvest, our goal is to leave the Earth better than we found it. We’ve taken steps to conserve and reuse water in our greenhouses; we utilize solar energy as much as possible to supply the energy needs for our facilities; and we use natural methods of pest control rather than dangerous chemical pesticides. Additionally, we are Fair Trade Certified because of our work to protect the health, safety and economic interests of our employees and their families, and also to ensure their access to education and affordable housing. We operate our business this way because we know it to be right, but it is always rewarding and encouraging to be recognized for our hard work.”

Whole Foods Market’s Responsibly Grown program can award growers ratings of “Good,” “Better,” or “Best” if they meet certain criteria. The rating system evaluates growers in the following areas: soil health; air, energy and climate; waste minimization; farm worker welfare; water conservation and protection; ecosystems and biodiversity; and advanced pest management. Growers must offer transparency related to the use of GMOs and may not utilize irradiation treatments or biosolids.

In addition, growers earning a “Best” rating must show that they protect pollinator health and demonstrate industry leadership in the areas of pest control and sustainability.

“Wholesum Harvest is proud to provide our customers with produce that is organic, delicious and responsibly grown,” Crisantes said in the release. “We applaud Whole Foods for its efforts to help consumers make informed choices in the produce aisle, while also encouraging growers to make better, healthier choices in their fields and greenhouses.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Wholesum Harvest earns ‘Best’ ratings from Whole Foods

Organic grower Wholesum Harvest announced that Whole Foods Market has awarded a “Best” rating to each of the company’s three farms as part of the grocer’s new Responsibly Grown program. The program is designed to help customers make more informed purchases by offering transparency about how their food is grown; it also rewards the growers who are taking steps to protect consumer health and the environment.

A “Best” rating indicates that Wholesum Harvest has demonstrated exceptional efforts to grow responsibly by preserving worker rights and promoting green growing practices — avoiding unhealthy agrochemicals and aggressively pursuing sustainability. Wholesum Harvest met the requirements for a “Best” rating, and even went above the standard by supplying produce that is also certified organic.

“We are honored that Whole Foods Market has recognized our commitment to the environment, our workers and our customers by awarding our farms with ‘Best’ ratings,” Ricardo Crisantes, Wholesum Harvest general manager, said in a press release. “At Wholesum Harvest, our goal is to leave the Earth better than we found it. We’ve taken steps to conserve and reuse water in our greenhouses; we utilize solar energy as much as possible to supply the energy needs for our facilities; and we use natural methods of pest control rather than dangerous chemical pesticides. Additionally, we are Fair Trade Certified because of our work to protect the health, safety and economic interests of our employees and their families, and also to ensure their access to education and affordable housing. We operate our business this way because we know it to be right, but it is always rewarding and encouraging to be recognized for our hard work.”

Whole Foods Market’s Responsibly Grown program can award growers ratings of “Good,” “Better,” or “Best” if they meet certain criteria. The rating system evaluates growers in the following areas: soil health; air, energy and climate; waste minimization; farm worker welfare; water conservation and protection; ecosystems and biodiversity; and advanced pest management. Growers must offer transparency related to the use of GMOs and may not utilize irradiation treatments or biosolids.

In addition, growers earning a “Best” rating must show that they protect pollinator health and demonstrate industry leadership in the areas of pest control and sustainability.

“Wholesum Harvest is proud to provide our customers with produce that is organic, delicious and responsibly grown,” Crisantes said in the release. “We applaud Whole Foods for its efforts to help consumers make informed choices in the produce aisle, while also encouraging growers to make better, healthier choices in their fields and greenhouses.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

US (CA): Accelerated broccoli, cauliflower harvest heads into holiday pull

Abnormal weather pushed this year’s cauliflower and broccoli harvest ahead of schedule in California’s Central Coast this year. Heading into the holiday season, which will bring increased demand, the market has been steady.

“Both the cauliflower and broccoli markets have been steady for the last week or two,” said Jason Lathos of Church Brothers in Salinas, California. “It’s getting closer to Thanksgiving, and both cauliflower and broccoli are staples for that holiday dinner, so we’ll probably see an increase in demand due to retail promotions.” 

At the end of last week, a 20-pound carton of loose crown cut broccoli was between $ 10.35 and $ 14.50 out of the Salinas-Wattsonville area, and a carton of bunched 14s was between $ 7.35 and $ 10.61. A carton of bunched 18s was between $ 7.85 and $ 11.95.

For cauliflower, a carton of film-wrapped white 9s was between $ 12.00 and $ 15.55, a carton of 12s was between $ 12.65 an $ 16.50 and a carton of 16s was between $ 9.35 and $ 14.11.

“We did start to get cooler mornings and days, so we could see a bit of a change in estimates and forecasts,” said Lathos, “but we anticipate high demand and steady to low supplies for the holiday promotion.”

For more information:

Jason Lathos

Church Brothers

+1 831 796 1058

FreshPlaza.com

Spain: Around 30% of pomegranate harvest lost

José María Martínez, of Cambayas: “Lower production compensates for loss of Russian market”
Spain: Around 30% of pomegranate harvest lost

The pomegranate season of the Valencia variety, which started in mid-August, is almost finished and the markets are awaiting the arrival of the Mollar from Elche on 30 September, which is the flagship of the Spanish campaign.

“So far, the Valencia pomegranate season has been characterised by a reduction of about 25% in production volumes; a similar percentage to what we expect for the Mollar variety,” says José María Martínez, head of the cooperative Cambayas, one of the largest pomegranate producers and marketers, based in Elche, Alicante.

This decline, mainly due to problems in the settling of the flowers due to the lack of rain during the spring and summer in the eastern region, “has so far not had an impact on the average prices, which have been under pressure due to the Russian veto,” said the executive. 

Therefore, as regards the Mollar campaign, which will start in a few days, the similar drop in production could compensate for the volumes of this variety that will not be shipped to the Russian market,” explains Martínez. Taking into account both direct and indirect exports, Russia accounted for around 30% of the exports; more than 13,000 tonnes. 

“This also indicates that, although pomegranates are currently a popular fruit, the market supply is growing faster than demand, not only in Spain, but also in the rest of the world; a trend which it seems will continue for now,” he affirms. 

The acreage devoted to Mollar pomegranates in Elche and the surrounding municipalities is of approximately 3,000 hectares and this year a harvest of about 35,000 tonnes is expected. 

Some of the major destinations right now, besides the domestic market, are the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as the Persian Gulf and Asia.

Turkey and Israel will benefit from the Russian ban, as it will allow them to increase their shipments to this destination. “Turkey and Israel will get a larger market share and, even if the veto was to be lifted in the future, it would be difficult to recover that share,” he points out. 

The crop accounts for over 80% of the agricultural production in many municipalities in the south of the province of Alicante and generates more than 3,000 direct jobs and a thousand indirect jobs.

Publication date: 9/29/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Red River Valley anticipates a good red potato harvest

Beneficial rains over the Red River Valley in late August and early September were setting the stage for good harvest conditions of the region’s red potato crop.

Ted Kreis, marketing and communications director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, MN, added that good harvest conditions, including a softening of the northern plains soil, can be as important to crop quality as the growing conditions that created the potatoes. If the soil is too hard it can damage the spuds during harvest.

Kreis said some Red River Valley reds were packed and immediately shipped in early September.

“We expect a good crop this year,” Kreis told The Produce News. “The early reports are that everything is looking good now. There have been a lot of samples” but the large harvest for storage wouldn’t begin until mid-September.

“Last year we put about 4 million bags into storage,” he said. “The number this year will be that, or exceed that, this year. I really don’t know. Yields can vary tremendously. It’s hard to guess exact numbers.”

The Red River Valley’s red potato acreage is expected to be up 1 or 2 percent this year. In 2013, the valley produced 23,000 acres of red potatoes. North Dakota produces a total of about 90,000 acres of potatoes. Beyond reds, these are mostly russets that are virtually dedicated to the processing market. Kreis added that the red potato acreage actually includes yellow potatoes, which will represent about 8 percent of the fresh production.

David Moquist, the secretary-treasurer of O.C. Schulz & Sons Inc., located in Crystal, ND, said the quality of the 2014 potato crop looks good, with higher yields than a year ago.

“If demand holds like it did with the Minnesota crop, there is a good chance the price holds,” said Steve Tweten, president and chief executive officer of NoKota Packers Inc., located in Buxton, ND. “If demand goes down” for Red River Valley red potatoes “with extremely cheap russets hitting the market, all bets are off.”

Tweten said russet potatoes “tend to put a ceiling on the market, but the spread in the price between reds and russets the past few years has increased. The ceiling is limited when russets are plentiful and cheap.”

Tweten said, “The potato crop looks nice. The quality is good. We have average tonnage, based on samples. Not everyone will be harvesting until the week of Sept. 15.”

In a press release that Kreis sent to The Produce News on Sept. 5, he said, “All signs are that it will be a very nice crop. Once we got past the late spring planting, growing conditions have been ideal, but we are still predicting average yields, but harvested acres may be up a bit. This would give us between 4.2 million and 4.5 million hundredweight of potatoes for the fresh market; over 90 percent would be reds, the remainder yellows.

“Demand for red and yellow potatoes in both sectors has increased the past two shipping seasons quite rapidly at the expense of russets,” the release from Kreis continued. “I think there are a number of factors including more exposure of colored potatoes on cable food networks, women’s magazines and restaurant menus. There has also been a substantial increase in retail promotions and shelf space, as red potatoes grow in popularity.”

Kreis added, “Red potatoes from the Red River Valley and Central Minnesota are easily the top sellers in supermarkets in most of the two states.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Caramel Naturel Dates 2014 fresh harvest under way

Atlas Produce and Distribution Inc., a shipper of 100 percent natural strictly California-grown dates, announced that the 2014 date harvest is under way.Caramel-Naturel-logo

“The quality once again is looking excellent,” Robert Dobrzanski, president of Atlas Produce, said in a press release.

The California drought condition is a major concern for all of the agricultural community, but the hot and dry conditions this summer have been perfect for Medjool dates. The California harvest this year started about two weeks earlier than normal due to the weather.

“The difference Carmel Naturel dates offer is that we only grow our dates in the sunny state of California,” he said. “Our consumers constantly tell us that California dates are their favorite. Our loyal Caramel Naturel date retail partners have noticed this as well and have told us that they prefer California-grown dates over dates grown elsewhere.”

As for sales, Dobrzanski said things are going very well: “Caramel Naturel dates sales this year have exceeded our expectations, and we attribute our success to our unwavering attention to quality.”

Caramel Naturel dates display the “California Grown” symbol on all of its packaging to give consumers added confidence in the brand.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Caramel Naturel Dates 2014 fresh harvest under way

Atlas Produce and Distribution Inc., a shipper of 100 percent natural strictly California-grown dates, announced that the 2014 date harvest is under way.Caramel-Naturel-logo

“The quality once again is looking excellent,” Robert Dobrzanski, president of Atlas Produce, said in a press release.

The California drought condition is a major concern for all of the agricultural community, but the hot and dry conditions this summer have been perfect for Medjool dates. The California harvest this year started about two weeks earlier than normal due to the weather.

“The difference Carmel Naturel dates offer is that we only grow our dates in the sunny state of California,” he said. “Our consumers constantly tell us that California dates are their favorite. Our loyal Caramel Naturel date retail partners have noticed this as well and have told us that they prefer California-grown dates over dates grown elsewhere.”

As for sales, Dobrzanski said things are going very well: “Caramel Naturel dates sales this year have exceeded our expectations, and we attribute our success to our unwavering attention to quality.”

Caramel Naturel dates display the “California Grown” symbol on all of its packaging to give consumers added confidence in the brand.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Tarheel 2014 sweet potato harvest will be back to normal

BENSON, NC — North Carolina’s sweet potato harvest, still in full swing at mid-September, is back to normal, and none too soon. After two years in a row of below-average acreage planted due to weather, the 2014 crop is growing on 66,000 acres. That’s the USDA estimate cited by Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, here. The feds predict that 65,000 of those acres will be harvested, equal to almost half of the nation’s crop.NCSPROUNDUP10614-VICK-PROCESweet potatoes (Suss Kartoffeln) bound for the German market are processed and packed at Vick Family Farm near Wilson. North Carolina is the leading U.S. grower of sweet potatoes, and 20 percent are exported overseas, mainly to Europe.

In 2013, wet weather hampered planting of the seedling sprouts. “We had a rain of biblical proportions in North Carolina,” Johnson-Langdon explained. “That held the crop down to about 54,000 acres planted. This year, we’re up 22 percent in estimated acreage planted, and we’ve had an uneventful growing season, good weather generally. We should have plenty of sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving this year.”

The short crop last year resulted in some growers in late August running out of supplies of stored 2013 sweet potatoes before they could harvest and cure their 2014 crop. Curing takes five to 10 days, and then they are stored at 55-60 degrees for up to a year. The favorite variety of sweet potato grown in North Carolina is the Covington, named after a North Carolina State University researcher and industry leader who developed the variety. Johnson-Langdon estimated that 90 percent of the sweet potatoes grown in the state are Covingtons.

The North Carolina Agribusiness Council estimated on Sept. 14 that about 27 percent of the sweet potato crop in the state had been harvested. Planting hit a high in 2011 in North Carolina, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Of 134,000 acres planted nationwide, 65,000 were in the Tarheel state. Yields were 208 hundredweight bags per acre, nationwide and 200 hundredweight in North Carolina. Acreage planted dropped in 2012 to 130,500 nationwide and 63,000 in North Carolina, with yields at 209 hundredweight nationwide and 200 hundredweight in North Carolina.

Joey Hocutt, produce grower at Triple J Produce in Sims, NC, expected to continue harvesting his 1,300 acres of sweet potatoes, including 150 organic acres, until Nov. 18. The weather had been good, he said, and he had 55 workers for the harvest under the federal H2A worker program.

At Vick Family Farms in Wilson, NC, Jerome Vick, who first harvested sweet potatoes in 1985, said Sept. 19 his harvest was “back to normal” after a wet 2013 held down plantings. “We use the same workers to do tobacco and then sweet potatoes, but this year tobacco is a little late and sweet potatoes are a little early, so we’re short on labor. Other than that, we’re seeing good yields and having a good harvest, now about 25 percent complete,” he said.

Charlotte D. Vick, partner and director of sales and marketing, said Vick Family Farms had expanded its sweet potato fields to more than 1,000 acres and is building a new 25,000-square-foot curing and storage facility that can hold 180,000 bushels of sweet potatoes to accommodate demand from the new dehydration facilities nearby.

Ham Produce Co. in Snow Hill, one of the larger U.S. sweet potato growers, is expanding production by 50 percent this year, to 13,000 acres. With its dehydration facility in Farmville (see “Two new sweet potato dehydration facilities to open in North Carolina,” The Produce News, Sept. 22, 2014, page 2) now open, Stacy Ham, vice president, said, “Here we go again, expanding our sweet potato production by 50 percent again this year.” Ham Produce and its 65 full-time, year-round workers started harvesting its crop in late August and will continue into November.

Johnson-Langdon pointed out that value-added processing has resulted in new sweet potato products that have extended shelf life and increased sales. She rattled off examples: microwaveable sweet potatoes and sweet potato chips and fries; vodka and beer; pancake, pie and muffin mix; baby food; juice drinks; and crackers. About 20 percent of the North Carolina sweet potato crop is exported via container ships on a 10-14 day journey to 19 countries, mostly in Europe.

“With the new dehydration plants for sweet potatoes opening in the state in the coming year, our 300 sweet potato growers will be able to sell all their crop, including those too large or small for retail, and new markets will open for pet food, animal feed and juice drinks,” she noted. The dehydration plants will use the 25 percent to 30 percent of the sweet potatoes left in the field and not harvested now, she added.

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