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Stefan Misse - September 10, 2012

Canada’s National Organic Week is the largest annual celebration of organic food, farming and products across the country. Hundreds of individual events showcase the benefits of organic agriculture and its positive impact on the environment. Organic represents a vibrant alternative food system and an alternative option for clothing, personal care and cleaning products.

We have so much to celebrate in Canada:

A growing sector. Organic farming is a rare success story for Canadian agriculture with lots of new farmers, fair prices and growing markets in Canada and abroad.
A transparent food source. Organic foods are the most regulated in Canada, offering Canadians a healthy source of food that isn’t just good for our health, but also good for the health of our environment.
A source of food that is sustainable in the future. Organic farmers work with nature, not against it to produce food that doesn’t degrade soil quality, ensuring future generations will have access to the rich farmland that exists in Canada.

Last year, events included anything from pickling workshops to recipes contests, farm tours, or organic food and drink tastings in retail locations across the country. If you want to get involved in organic week this year check out http://www.organicweek.ca/

+Continue reading Canada Organic Week Sept. 22 - 29+
Randy Hooper - September 5, 2012
Category: Produce Update

A few short notes: Local blues are all but done, so we’ll be buying from Eastern Washington for a couple of weeks, where they don’t have the normal problems here of heavy dew and warm days making the fruit soft – good thing there’s a good market for frozen fruit! The new great thing this week will be the first harvest of Neil Sproule’s Coronation grapes. With increasing production at several farms, and a long season, this is definitely something to make good shelf space for. These are the grapes that have traditionally been used for grape juice – because of the flavour and natural sugars. Coronations are a cousin of the original Concorde that has a great big seed in the middle.
A great weather forecast – even long range ones look like they’re just perfect for what we hope is a great melon season – both for growing, and for sales. Plum selection continues to increase – we’re into the thick of it now. And local pear volumes are increasing. Of course, we are discounting California fruit as we make this transition. Ralph’s Greenhouse bunched carrots have been our mainstay through the summer, and continue to sell well, based entirely on quality and presentation. With a warm spell coming up, supply of all B.C. vegetables will continue strong on most fronts – we’re having to buy very little south of the line right now. If you’ve been doing well with Walla Walla onions, there’s only one stack left – you snooze, you lose. The tomato flood is starting with every grower coming out of the woodwork with good volumes, great flavour and high quality. This is the time to promote local tomatoes – aren’t they better? These aren’t picked white, but higher colour which equals better eating. Fabulous selection of potatoes, don’t ya think? More standard B.C. varieties will roll in, with the balance now mostly Washington. The specialty fingerlings (which are all USA grown) have been a total hit this year.
 

+Continue reading September harvests begin+
Randy Hooper - August 24, 2012
Category: Produce Update

This is pretty weird, bringing you hail updates all the time, but your customers may want to know why apples are going to be so darn expensive this year. The latest storm outbreak on Tuesday missed some producers completely, and damaged apples extensively for others. With a diminished B.C. supply, and a very small crop in the east (Ontario and the U.S.) with a loss of 1.6 billion pounds, many are estimating Washington’s big crop will sell through very early in 2013. Buyers are already firming contracts in S. America, for the spring of 2013, two months before the trees have blossomed! The first Galas out of Washington are packed and on their way. Blueberry supply continues to be excellent, with later varieties now starting harvest. Lemon supply is tightening, with some fruit now coming from Mexico. Melon sales are excellent, with lots of B.C. in the works. We’ll see the first of Cliffe Farms Splendors early next week, with cantaloupe on its tail. We’ve been selling their melons for 11 years, and they never disappoint. There’s a wide plum selection coming on, but volumes will be down this year – wind blew off an average of 20% of the crop. Strawberry quality is excellent, with cool temperatures in Watsonville / Salinas producing great quality fruit. Mary Forstbauer’s rich coloured Green beans are in good supply. Nice to see B.C. Red Torpedo onions on our price list. A traditional Italian salad onion, these will attract some attention – maybe consider subbing these for regular Reds on your shelf for a couple of weeks. To go along with those, how about the best tasting onions of all – Yellow Cipollini – literally ‘little onions’. For roasting, sautéing or grilling, these are definitely WAY better than yellow storage varieties. We haven’t had these on our list for 4 years from B.C. Our local potato selection has ramped up with good supply of German Butter Yellow’s rolling in. Slower growing Yukon and Russets are just starting, with Yukon volume all in nuggets.

+Continue reading The BC grown list keeps on growing+
Randy Hooper - August 22, 2012
Category: Produce Update

As promised, Sunrise apples arrive momentarily. There are some earlier summer varieties still available. Washington starts packing Gala early next week, with B.C. 10 days after that. Still reasonable supply of Jazz, Fuji and Granny available as well. Watch for a waterfall of peaches, and our crop this year will not only be huge, but the fruit will be on the large size as well. As we run out of the last of the southern pears, Washington will also be packing Bartlett in a few days, with B.C. right on their heels. We have HUGE volumes of blues arriving tonight to cover an expected harvest gap before the later varieties colour up, and we have a risk of rain in the Fraser Valley for a couple of days as well. Every year we just shake our heads at how well California Keitt mangos sell. Expensive and flawless, these are actually worth every penny – so don’t be shy! The Baja mango season is already winding down quickly with prices and supply tightening, so the jump to California is on – and the crop size is quite small compared to last year. Melons continue to be a very exciting market, with some local available, and lots of watermelon bins from Jeff Metzler in California available. With local plum supply ramping up, we have the last shipment of California plums at excellent prices. Greens supply is stable. Watch this list grow with cherry tomatoes and other summer specialties out of the Interior over the next couple of weeks as the late summer heat turns everything on quickly. Hail hit the Similkameen again last night – this is the most brutal summer ever in these prime growing areas, and hail in August is even more unusual – but damage to ground crops is light and sporadic. This HAS to end soon. The first Washington onions of the year are arriving from Andersen – we will be back into a reasonable price range very quickly. Eastern Washington is the largest onion producing area in the West, and supply will now be strong for 10 months.

+Continue reading Sunrise!+
Randy Hooper - August 8, 2012
Category: Produce Update

The next apples in the local lineup will be Sunrise and Early Golds.  We expected some of the Early Gold this week but there was a rain delay in harvest, and with heavy rain in the forecast today and tomorrow, it’s unlikely we’ll see them until the weekend.  We’re seeing some better late season cots that were smaller and greener when hail hit.  Outrageous weather continues to keep everyone on their toes, with major storms north of Vernon ravaging some ground crops over the last couple of days.  Great supply of large, high quality Skeena and Lapin cherries from Sproule’sFile 1612 File 1611– they have still managed to miss most of the storms and are harvesting on schedule.  Blueberries in good supply, with thunderstorms over the Fraser Valley last night not producing much rain.  Mango sales are brisk as we transition to Baja Sud where we always find vibrant colour, high sugar, and no need for hot water treatment.  A continuing supply of JW strawberries at our regular seasonal contract pricing.

+Continue reading BC ground crop harvests steadily increasing+
Randy Hooper - August 1, 2012
Category: Produce Update

Despite all the gloom and doom predictions and reports that flowed in last week, many producers are reporting much less damage to late variety cherries which weren’t developed enough to have much splitting. We will continue to have a good supply of quality cherries for several weeks. Hail damage has reduced apricot volumes – but, like cherries, some orchards got hit, others didn’t. Good supply of summer apple varieties now starting, and the arrival of some very expensive California Galas is imminent. All other main varieties will continue to be south hemisphere fruit for another few weeks. Blueberry supply is excellent, with huge volumes in last night. Growers are just ending earlier varieties, with mid-season harvest starting in a few days. The grape deal continues to be better than normal, with excellent quality coming out of all regions. A beautiful thing awaits you – the first of the Baja California mangos! Baja mangos don’t need to be hot-water dipped being free of Med fruit flies – this is the last area to come on, and cooler nights on the peninsula mean the sweetest fruit you can imagine. A virtual flood of cantaloupes in the market at great pricing, and a new flush of mini watermelons and bins arriving as summer seems to be slowly arriving. California nectarines are tight, with early B.C. varieties just starting. Our California peach supply vanished in the last couple of days, with good B.C. volume in house. We have a bit of a roller coaster going on in broccoli land, with no stable pricing. Celery market has tightened very quickly, with Pureveg shutting down their organic ground crop division in the last couple of weeks.
Heavy rains and a lack of any real heat throughout the interior continue to slow ground-crop production. Don’t expect to see a major flip to local tomatoes, cherry toms or peppers for another week at least. Origino continues to pump out solid volumes on slicer and vine tomatoes, cukes and beautiful red peppers.
 

+Continue reading We have the BC blues!+
Randy Hooper - July 25, 2012
Category: Produce Update

The bizarre summer of 2012 continues, with a continuing onslaught of rain and thunderstorms damaging crops across the entire Interior.  Last weekends storms did substantial damage, especially in the Creston region, with growers reporting large losses to cherry crops.  Too much of the early cherry crop has gone to juice.  More storms are predicted for today and Thursday.  All other fruit – apricots, peaches, nectarines and apples have all been impacted by hail over what is now a 3 week period of periodic thunderstorm outbreaks.  With great luck, Sproule’s orchards much farther north in Oyama have been spared, and we have a fabulous supply of Rainier cherries that just arrived.The gloomy, rainy days in the Fraser Valley have also held back green crops, zucchini, cukes – even hothouse production, forcing us to go further south to try to stay in stock.  For us weather nerds, we find ourselves comparing current weather against “normal.”  We’re quickly realizing that there is no normal anymore, and we’re going to have to roll with the punches as the climate changes quickly.  Our Peruvian avo deal winds down slowly, and our first Mexican Fair Trade fruit won’t be here for 3 weeks, so we’re filling in with California.  Blueberries took a beating this week with 3 days of rain, but the sun is out, with good weather in the forecast for a few days. An expected pick of early Transparent apples has been hailed out.  Good news in potato land as we transition out of California, and northbound to Washington and Pemberton.  Bruce Miller’s White Cascades are out of the ground!  These are beautiful spuds – you’ll also like to know that a good chunk of these stay in Pemberton, where they’re converted to the next best thing – Schramm’s Organic B.C. Vodka.

+Continue reading BC Rainier Cherries from Sproule Farm are in!+
Randy Hooper - July 20, 2012
Category: Produce Update

Apples are finally now in good supply – and we will see the first of the earliest B.C. crop this week with Vistas and Lodi “dessert” apples.  We are just about done on our Fair Trade avocado program, with new crop Fair Trade Mexican fruit 3 weeks away.

Oh, we’re buzzing with local activity on fruit now, with a bounty of berries, cherries and early cots and peaches.  Speaking of cherries – prices have come off significantly with most early and mid-season ripening at the same time, and watch for Sproule’s sensational Rainiers due in Wednesday.  We’re having to watch the weather, with the 3rd wave of severe thunderstorms in as many weeks once again pounding through all Interior valleys today, so some weekend harvesting may be delayed, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for all the growers in those areas.  The green veg market is pretty stable, with enough producers in the market that there aren’t many bumpy patches.  You’ll always have to watch lists carefully this time of year, as smaller farms tend to pack weights and sizes in direct relationship to the boxes they have kicking around, and not necessarily standard industry packs.  Takes a bit longer to cobble together your weekly plan, but also nice to share a growing level of local produce every year – 15 years ago the selection was tiny compared to what’s available now.  Yes, it’s July and we have about 1 week left of PEI storage yellow potatoes – wonders will never cease!  With zucchini splurting out of the ground across the continent, California growers are all dumping price quickly.  A few cool days coming up won’t help bring on much local volume, and may slow a few other items as well.

+Continue reading Blueberries, cherries, apples, apricots and peaches+
Randy Hooper - July 13, 2012
Category: Produce Update

Damage reports flowed in all week from apple and stonefruit growers across all local growing regions – some producers missed the bullet, others lost high percentages of crops, and now we have storm warnings out right through the weekend for another potential onslaught of severe thunderstorms, from the Fraser Valley right into the Shuswap. All we can do is keep our fingers and toes crossed.  We are seeing some initial shipments of cherries from growers who were lucky, and also some apricots a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.  Local blues are still a week away, however we are receiving small quantities of the earliest varieties. Good supply of apples and pears with late CA openings in Argentina and Chile pushing more volume than expected into the market.   We’re sitting on WAY too many 24 ct Avocado.  This fruit is eating very nice, but we’ll be back to the first Mexican crop in a couple of weeks, so have slashed prices.  When we buy Fair Trade, we aren’t allowed to specify sizing – we take what is harvested, and this last load was heavy on small fruit.  We also have bagged 20 X 3’s for next week.  We’ve had a huge run on seedless mini watermelon and brought in another ½ a truck load of these – weather is perfect!  We even have a few early Paul Friday (PF1) local peaches.  All this local fruit is going to be thin pickings for a couple of weeks, so plan on Washington and California, and be extra lucky if we have B.C. for you!  As promised, we have lots of pears for you – and Fairtrade Grannys.  Beautiful green beans from Prince George – wahoo!  The vegetable world looks a lot better, although a lot of spinach has been shredded in storms, especially south of the line, so, once again, we have a spinach hole!  Some clever grower with big hoop houses could be making a killing on spinach right about now!

+Continue reading More thunderstorms for BC+
Randy Hooper - July 11, 2012
Category: Produce Update

Monday night changed the crop outlook for the BC fruit season rather dramatically as one of the worst severe thunderstorm outbreaks ravaged the Similkameen and South Okanagan.  A line of storms developed quickly in northern Washington and pummeled growers with intense rain, wind and large hail.  Some areas have been hit hard, while other producers missed the bullet by a few kilometres.Growers are assessing the damage now, but we can tell you that the Osoyoos and Oliver cherry crops have been damaged extensively, and initial reports are that there will be widespread hail damage to apples.  There is an official grade for Canadian apples called “hail grade”, where apples have pockmarks in the skin.  Expect to see these in the market this fall.  What a tragedy – this was going to be the bumper crop that made up for losses in the last two years, especially in a year where prices will remain high because of high demand from the East, where the apple crop was all but wiped out by frosts a few months ago in Ontario, Quebec and the northern US states.  Apricot prices have dropped as the season picks up steam in Washington.  Spences Bridge cherry season is done, and we have good supply from Cawston, which escaped much of the rain and hail. The Cristalina cherry is heart-shaped and slightly compressed. Fruit size is moderately large, flesh is moderately firm and nearly as dark as the skin, and moderately sweet and they just arrived from the Organics Plus packing shed today!

+Continue reading BC Cherry season coming on strong now!+