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Platform with two drones in the middle of an orchard full of trees
HMC Farms® announces autonomous drone harvest pilot program

For immediate release: HMC Farms® has partnered with Tevel Aerobotics Technologies to pilot their drone harvesting system utilizing Flying Autonomous Robots. Each robot has the ability to fly, locate fruit, harvest and place the fruit all on its own with no human interaction required. HMC Farms has a reputation for pursuing cutting edge ag technology. Drew Ketelsen, Vice President and Farm Manager, has a background in civil engineering which gives him a unique perspective on farming and technology. He and Jon McClarty, President of HMC Farms and Drew’s brother-in-law, work together to stay updated on the latest developments and test…

Row of grapevines with clusters of grapes turning from green to red
HMC News – June 2022

We are tipping and thinning clusters in our table grape vineyards. During this process, each grape cluster is inspected and clipped to reduce the density of berries and obtain a manageable overall bunch size. At this point, we are getting into a nice harvest groove. Peach, plum, and nectarine harvest is moving right along in our orchards, with flavor continuing to impress across our early season varieties.  Plumsicle™ harvest has begun! As expected, the crop is sweet and flavorful. Plumsicle is available only in limited supplies this year, but we continue to add more acreage to our Plumsicle orchards each…

Tree with green leaves and ripe peaches in an orchard
HMC News – May 2022

Harvest season is finally here! Peach and nectarine harvest is underway as stone fruit continues to mature and grow in our orchards. Pictured below is our Sangria plum, which will begin harvest at the end of May. Thinning has now wrapped up in our stone fruit orchards. The warm and sunny spring we’re having is perfect for growing great tasting fruit with high sugar content. We have seen excellent eating quality right out of the gate. So far fruit looks and tastes as good or better than last year’s vintage crop, and we hope that will continue for the whole…

Tree branch with leaves and small peaches
HMC News – April 2022

April’s weather has been a rollercoaster, bouncing around 20 degrees up and down over a few days more than once. Thankfully, the forecast ahead shows weather conducive to stone fruit growth. We are thinning stone fruit in our stone fruit orchards. Thinning removes excess, under-sized, or damaged juvenile fruit from our trees. This ensures that nutrients are directed to fewer pieces of fruit, resulting in better size and flavor. It also protects the tree from damage due to too much weight on the limbs. Hail damage is prevalent across the industry in scattered pockets. We’ve discovered hail damaged stone fruit…

Pink blossoms on a tree in an orchard
HMC News – February 2022

After a winter with sufficient chill hours, some of our earliest stone fruit varieties have started to wake up from their winter hibernation as they push the first blooms of the 2022 season. These first flowers bring anticipation for the upcoming season along with the anxiety of knowing that unfavorable weather conditions can now have deleterious effects on the 2022 crop. Blossoms become commonplace around the valley as hundreds of different stone fruit varieties will be in different stages of bloom in late February and early March. We are in the process of grafting trees in some of our stone…

dormant grape vineyard with puddle of water, blue sky with clouds above
HMC News – January 2022

We’re starting the new year with a good amount of precipitation on the books already this winter, and a gorgeous view of the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains from our office. September-December of 2021, we received 7.52″ of rain on our farms, compared with only 1.89″ in the same timeframe in 2020. We have already blown past the 7.07″ total for Sept 2020-June 2021, and more rain is likely on the way over the next couple of months. In December alone, we received just over five inches of much needed rain on our farms, which is a big step forward from…

Woman packing plums into boxes in a packing house
The Cost of Doing Business in California Agriculture

While everyone is a little bit tired of hearing about inflation, our products are far from immune from the cost increases seen in other parts of the economy. Cartons and other packing materials have gone up in excess of 15%, chemicals and fertilizer in the field have increased substantially with some products more than doubling, and labor has become in short supply and more expensive. Farmers in California are not only looking at regular per hour wage increases, but have also completely lost agriculture overtime exemption (only one of two states in that situation). The latter not only makes activities…

HMC News – December 2021

We’re almost completely done pruning in our plum orchards, and we are busy pruning in our peach and nectarine orchards. Pruning is an important process of the annual stone fruit cycle as we prepare the trees for winter. By removing the older wood from the trees, we not only make way for new fruiting wood for the 2022 harvest season, but we also keep the trees shaped properly. In our high density stone fruit orchards, crews are using electric pruning shears in order to reach the upper parts of trees without ladders. These electric shears improve efficiency while still allowing…

McClarty family in a peach orchard
Reflecting on 2021 and the future of California agriculture

Next year will be better. We live by this credo, which some find irrational. The onerous circumstances we must navigate in California agriculture to produce better tasting fruit each year are getting increasingly more difficult, and have yet to reach an inflection point. Inputs, whether they are labor, water, or materials, haven’t just become more expensive, but at times they have become unavailable. If you read our newsletter on a monthly basis, you are aware of some of the creative ways in which we are trying to keep costs from continuing to rise. We want to keep our products as…

Artwork with instructions on growing grapes with 4 greeting cards depicting fruit on the right side
HMC Farms collaborates with Paper Farm Press on “Grapeful for You” project

As a family owned farming business, we are always excited when we have the opportunity to partner with other local businesses in California’s Central Valley on different types of projects. Sometimes that leads to delicious pies and specialty ice cream flavors, and other times it leads to beautiful artwork.  This year, we had the opportunity to partner with Lauren, owner of Paper Farm Press, on a grape project. Paper Farm Press is a fellow Central Valley business which creates hand printed cards, stationery, and artwork prints using vintage printing machines affectionately named Willa and Heidi. Their mission is to cultivate…