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HMC News – December 2022

It is no secret that California is in dire need of rain and snow this winter. The current drought from 2020 to 2022 is now the driest three-year period on record, breaking the old record set by the previous drought from 2013 to 2015. At the beginning of this month, we recorded 1.21 inches of rainfall out at our farms which brings our rainfall total for the year to 3.36 inches. Unfortunately, we are still 9.47 inches below the historical yearly average. To ease the need for water in 2023 we will need to receive several inches above our 12.83-inch annual average. Fortunately, rain is in the forecast again and our hope is the storms will continue & replenish our depleted reservoirs.

The recent political turmoil in Peru has created uncertainty in the California to Peru table grape transition. With seven presidents in the past six years, this most recent political crisis has seen highways and airports seized, making the movement of fresh produce from farms to ports impossible in the southern growing region of the country. The situation in Peru’s northern growing region remains normal. A higher-than-normal number of Peruvian grapes have already arrived in the U.S or are in transit. Coupled with ample supplies of California storage fruit, we are optimistic that with careful coordination we will minimize any impacts the situation in Peru has on the transition.

Happy holidays from our family to yours! We hope you have a wonderful time celebrating with family, friends, and loved ones. This winter at HMC Farms, we collected gifts for the Marjaree
Mason Center Tree of Hope. These gifts will be given to families affected by domestic violence in Fresno County. The Center’s goal is to support and empower adults and their children who
have been affected by domestic violence, while striving to prevent and end the cycle of abuse through education and advocacy. Last year, the Center provided services to over 9,600 adults and children including over 89,000 nights of safe housing, 4,800 hotline calls, and 3,900 counseling sessions.

HMC News – November 2022

The fall rains are upon us. At the beginning of the month, we received over ¾ of an inch, which is substantial for our area. The storm was cold enough for snow in the mountains, and hopefully this is the start of some form of drought relief. Once it dried out, we continued pruning tree fruit orchards and wrapped up harvest on the grapes for the year. Overall, the weather has been nice and cool, which helps the trees enter dormancy and accumulate chill hours. Dormancy is important during pruning because it allows the trees to drop their leaves, giving the pruners a better view of the tree structure and make better cutting decisions. Chill hours are important because it allows the trees to enter their “resting” stage, and a more rested tree is a tree that will wake up happy and ready to go in 2023!

As we learn about and incorporate Ag technology into our farming methods, the goal is not to remove workers or jobs, but rather to improve jobs so that our employees can manage the same amount of work with less physical stress. Ag tech also helps us ensure that we can continue to grow and sell fresh produce as our environmental and political environment continues to shift. In reality, adding technology to our fields will end up saving jobs in the long run by ensuring that we are able to operate for generations to come. Tevel Aerobotics and HMC Farms are working together to create this future.

Click here to learn more.

A huge part of being a family run business is contributing to our community. We live where we work, and coworkers are friends as well as neighbors. Pictured above are one of the many HMC Farms teams, full of family members, coworkers and our community. A life in farming is not simply trees and vines, it is not just what we do, it is who we are, and we are proud to provide for the community whenever possible. We are thankful every day for the opportunity to grow food for our families.

The week before Thanksgiving, HMC employees gathered to volunteer at the Fresno Food Bank. The Fresno Food Bank is an organization that we feel very strongly about. We know both our financial and personal efforts are well directed, as the Food Bank provides crucial support to those that are less fortunate in our community. Each year we donate produce as well as our time. In 2022 HMC Farms donated over 500,000 lbs. to the Central California Food Bank.

HMC News – October 2022

California table grapes are still in full swing, but the import season is swiftly approaching. Shipping flow and port delays have been issues in the past. While we don’t anticipate large volumes of Peruvian grapes to arrive until mid to late December, more Peruvian grapes are headed to the US this year. Some companies have already begun shipments, which is historically earlier than normal. In regards to grape volume, this is the first year Peru is set to eclipse Chile in total table grape production. For California, the California Table Grape Commission has dropped their estimate from 97 million total boxes to 92.5 million. Even though the overall volume has dropped, the remaining volume is higher than previous years. This means we should see no shortage of availability through most of December the same as in previous years.

We are officially into our late season varieties on grapes, Allison and Autumn King. The fruit is looking great and we are continuing to harvest a bit ahead of schedule. Planning is already well underway for next year’s planting. Varieties have been selected, plants have been ordered, the new irrigation systems are being designed, and trellis install is in process.

With the tree fruit season winding to a close, now is the time we focus on replenishing the soil for the season to come. Earlier this year, when flowers and leaves were present, tissue and soil samples were taken from the orchards and vineyards. This gave us a snapshot of the plant nutrients status. Samples were studied so that each block could receive a custom blend of fertilizer to keep it healthy and performing at its peak. Now that harvest is almost complete, we continue to replenish the soil with compost. Compost enriches the soil with carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, while also improving soil pH and the biological properties.

HMC hosted our annual blood drive. Blood donations are in short supply. We found by providing an opportunity to donate on site, many who would not have the time are able to contribute to the ever-present need for donations. It is always exciting to see people come together from every part of the operation and support such a great cause.

HMC Farms recently had the opportunity to attend the IFG Field Day. IFG is one of the prominent table grape breeders based out of California. The field days are designed to provide growers and retailers the opportunity to view and sample new grape varieties. The feedback and dialogue will help shape the future of the grape breeding program. The most exciting part of the Field Day included touring the new Fruitworks facility, their new research and breeding center. The planted experimental vines are grafted on to several different rootstocks which allows us to analyze each vine’s characteristics and help us decide which variety and rootstocks combination will work best in our soils.

HMC News – September 2022

Fall is finally upon us. With the last 100+ degree day behind us we can begin to prepare for the season ahead. Rain is not forecasted in the foreseeable future, but we are prepared. Our late season table grape vines are now covered to protect them from any precipitation we may have between now and the end of harvest. The covers are perforated in the middle so that rain can drip down in the center of the V-trellis without falling directly on the grape bunches. Our late season grape crop is looking to be of great quality, although earlier than normal. The stone fruit season is starting to wind down as we finish up on our last varieties of the year. Our grapes seem to have made it through the recent heat with minimal damage. As the weather cooled off, we experienced some sporadic rain cells throughout the valley. The forecast shows relief from the heat over the days ahead, although we may still have a few warmer temperatures in store this month before the Central Valley finally settles into fall weather.

 

 

A group of nutrition experts and social influencers visited our farms recently as part of the Safe Fruits and Veggies Tour. This annual event, organized by the Alliance for Food and Farming, is designed to give these individuals a first-hand look at the care and commitment farmers put into growing safe food. We were able to discuss our sustainability efforts, technology, and our focus on growing delicious, healthy, safe food for consumers around the world with them. We hope that these visitors will help spread the word about the safety and importance of incorporating fresh fruit into a healthy diet.

 

 

In 2018 Growing Produce interviewed Jon McClarty and Drew Ketelsen about their innovative new approach to growing tree fruit, high density planting. Four years later they checked in to report on the progress and success of the method that is now the new norm for HMC Farms. “The laughing and snickering, that changed by 2020, and now a lot of people think the whole system was planning for this year, 2022, with the $15-an-hour minimum wage. A lot of people were waiting to act, and we wanted to be proactive,” Drew says. “We’re garnering more curiosity because they are starting to experience what we all know is coming, when labor gets really short.”

To read the full article click here.

Spicy Pancetta Grape Pizza

Imagine what would happen if your Hawaiian pizza took a trip to Italy… Meet the Spicy Pancetta Grape Pizza. The sweetness of bright, juicy red grapes balance out fiery Calabrian chilies and salty pancetta in this Italian twist on Hawaiian pizza. 

 

Watch us make this pizza on YouTube or Instagram!

 

Lo que necesitarás:

1 uncooked pizza crust

1/2 cup pizza sauce

2-3 tbsp calabrian chili paste

8 oz shredded cheese

2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1.5 oz thinly sliced pancetta

1 shallot, thinly sliced

5-6 oz sliced red grapes

parsley, finely chopped

Overhead shot of pizza, surrounded by grapes, striped towel, brown bottle, bowl of shopped parsley and bowl of sauce

Instructions:

  • preheat oven to 450°
  • prepare dough on baking sheet
  • mix chili paste with sauce to taste
  • spread sauce on dough & top with cheeses, pancetta, and shallots
  • bake pizza for 12-15 min until nearly done (light golden crust)
  • add grapes, bake 3-5 more min
  • Garnish with parsley

Click here to download our recipe card!

McClarty Family Peach Cobbler Recipe

It’s the last day of National Peach Month, and we’re finally sharing our family recipe for peach cobbler with all of you! This has been a family favorite for many years, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. We may or may not eat it for breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 3lbs of HMC Farms peaches
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup pancake mic
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Toss peaches with brown sugar in a greased 9″ square baking dish
  • Combine pancake mix, sugar, and cinnamon
  • Stir egg into the dry mixture until it becomes crumbly
  • Top peaches with crumble mixture and top with melted butter
  • Bake for about 45 minutes, until topping is a golden brown

Hand written recipe for peach cobbler on a white piece of paper

HMC News – August 2022

A summer storm made its way to the Central Valley this month. An estimated 1/4″ of rain touched down on our farms, which is unprecedented at this time of year. Some stone showed hardly any impact, while other blocks were more significantly impacted. It appears that the rain impacted all commodities to some degree and the varieties that were just ready to be harvested and in the middle of harvest were most severely affected.

Road and telephone pole in front of an orchard of trees, lightning bold in the background

Table grape harvest remains ongoing. We’re seeing an impressive crop of green seedless varietals coming out of our vineyards this year. All commodities appear to be ahead of schedule compared to last year’s harvest, ranging from a few days to a couple of weeks.

Green grape bunches hanging on a vine with dark green leaves

HMC recently attended the Global Grape Summit with attendees and speakers from six continents (unfortunately no penguins or Antarctic researchers could attend) to discuss viewpoints on the evolution and future of the grape industry. One point of discussion was the impact of the explosion of new varieties, with many different opinions from growers, retailers, and the four major international grape breeders. Harold, as a scheduled speaker, explained that to stone fruit growers, a multitude of varietal options is nothing new. He further explained that many new varieties come with characteristics beneficial to the grower which also provide a better consumer experience. As a business, we not only compete with other grape and stone fruit growers, but also other fruit commodities vying for the shoppers’ dollar. Improved eating characteristics provided by some of the new varieties help inspire consumers to add our products to their shopping baskets.

Two men sitting on stage with a sign in the background that says global grape summit

Secretary of the Interior Meets with California Farmers

A few growers were recently invited to meet with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to explain our position on California water. Fresno County is the number one agricultural county in the United States. We live in a very unique environment that allows us to feed not only a great part of the nation, but also the world.

Governor Newsom just introduced a plan that will prioritize any and all available water, and agriculture is at the bottom of that list. We are concerned about his knowledge of our needs and nervous that this limited resource continues to be divided by increased demand upon less and less water. It is ironic to have to explain to our elected officials the value of food… something which every hungry country already understands.

McClarty Farms has been very diligent in owning and acquiring property in areas of abundant ground water. We have had the rights to this water for over a century. It is often not about availability, but about ownership. We are nervous that we are being legislated by large populations in coastal cities with no knowledge of how food gets onto their table. Permanent crops must be planted years before they are ready to harvest. Water unknowns today are forcing farmers to make decisions that will impact our food supply five years from now. Our obligation is to educate and inform, making people aware of the growing concern we have for our way of life, our own families, and all agriculture-dependent families. We do not want to see bare grocery store shelves or be dependent on imports for our food security. We as farmers have always been innovative and creative, and we will continue to work to solve these challenges. Using available tools, we do everything we can to manage water as efficiently as possible. “Marginal” water-challenged areas are left fallow, while drip irrigation and new technology allows for better water management, determining the perfect quantity for plant needs.

Our job now is to make people understand that we need to share the most important commodity in California… water.

-Harold McClarty

HMC Farms® announces autonomous drone harvest pilot program

Platform with two drones in the middle of an orchard full of trees

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 various forms of ag tech in order to determine the best fit for their farms.

Ketelsen attributes HMC’s high density stone fruit planting system with the ability to utilize drone harvesting. He says, “The years of work we’ve put into cultivating high density orchards are paying off as we implement technology like Flying Autonomous Robot harvesting. We have successfully harvested peaches, nectarines and multiple colors of plums using drones this summer. This project is still in an early stage, but the future potential is very exciting.”

When asked about his thoughts on the pilot program and expanding into the U.S. market, Ittai Marom, US General Manager at Tevel Aerobotics Technologies, shared: “Tevel is pushing the limits of the autonomous revolution in agriculture, and this year marks our debut in the US with our first customers, among them HMC Farms. In harvesting HMC’s fruit, we are gaining first-hand field experience by working alongside their team, while HMC is positioning itself at the forefront of robotic harvesting of stone fruit. So far in our California operations, we have successfully harvested peaches, nectarines, and plums. We are grateful for the support we are getting from HMC’s management and team.”

Autonomous harvest options have great potential to fill a crucial need in the agricultural community, which has notoriously dealt with labor shortages over the years. In places like California’s Central Valley, this technology also may help with harvest during periods of extreme heat, as summer temperatures can often reach well above 100 degrees for many days in a row, right at the peak of stone fruit harvest.

 

About HMC Farms

HMC Farms is a family owned and operated farming business that has grown tree fruit and table grapes in California’s Central Valley since 1887. They believe in growing fruit they are proud to put their name on. To learn more about HMC Farms, visit www.hmcfarms.com.

 

About Tevel Aerobotics Technologies

Tevel’s mission is to lead the transformation from manual fruit picking into on-demand Flying Autonomous Robots. To learn more about Tevel, visit www.tevel-tech.com.

 

 

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Plumsicle™ Ice Cream!

If you’ve tasted our proprietary HMC Farms® Plumsicle™, you already know that the flavor is unlike any other piece of fruit. The taste reminds us of a frozen treat from the ice cream truck on a hot summer day, and we were inspired to create our own version of that creamy, frosty goodness in our farm kitchen to get us through this heat wave. We know it’s hard not to eat Plumsicles when they’re right in front of you, so grab an extra bag to snack on while you make this Plumsicle ice cream.

 

We used our home ice cream maker for this recipe. You may need to adjust the portions depending on the size of your ice cream maker.

Ingredients: two bottles of milk, bowl of cut plums, 3 brown eggs, bowl of sugar, bowl of vanilla, salt grinder on white marble surface

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of HMC Farms Plumsicle, pits removed (about 2lbs)
  • Half and half – ¼ gallon + 1 cup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

 

Start by rinsing off your Plumsicles and carefully remove the pits. We like to leave the skin on for little pockets of extra Plumsicle flavor, but if you can’t come to terms with the skin in your ice cream it’s okay to remove it. Place all of the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. If you want some Plumsicle chunks, try blending all of the other ingredients first, and then adding Plumsicle and using the pulse blend option to leave some chunks. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and use the manufacturer’s instructions. That’s it! An easy path to homemade Plumsicle ice cream that will make you look like a seasoned confectioner.

Waffle bowl containing two scoops of pink ice cream on multi-colored striped background, purple towel and 3 plums in frame

Watch us make this recipe here.

 

Don’t have an ice cream maker, or looking for a dairy-free option? Check out this recipe for Plumsicle ice pops and wine pops from The Produce Moms!

For more information on Plumsicle, visit our dedicated website!