The United Nations declared 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables in order to raise awareness of the importance of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security, and health. One of the key messages in this campaign is the value of family farms in communities. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, family farms generate income, improve food security and nutrition, and enhance resiliency through sustainably managed local resources. We couldn’t agree more!
We normally compare table grape harvest timing to the previous year, but last year’s heavy wildfire smoke blanket pushed back grape maturation significantly. We’ve had approximately 20% more solar radiation over the past month than the same time period last year. During the last few weeks of September we experienced heavier smoke in the Central Valley, largely due to the fires in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. We expect that the smoke will clear out in the near future, but even if it lingers for a bit we already have much more momentum in color and berry maturity than we did at this time last year.
We are wrapping up the stone fruit season after a long, hot, and challenging summer. Weather conditions impacted our yield, but this turned out to be one of the best tasting crops in recent memory. It may seem like we’ve got a long break ahead of us, but farming truly is year-round, even for seasonal crops. We’ve already begun pruning trees to prepare for dormancy over the winter, and we are prepping blocks for winter planting.
The stone fruit season is now upon us! At the beginning of the month, we saw considerable volume available with fruit exhibiting mid-season flavor. This year the fruit size is better than last year, and the drought has created weather that is perfect for high sugar development. We have a full stone fruitcrop, and it already looks like this could be be a vintage year for great tasting fruit.
Rootstock is a term we use when covering the grafting process. Rootstock is the portion of the tree or vine that establishes the root system underground, hence the name. Because of the makeup of our soil, we often use rootstock combined with scion wood (the upper part of the tree or vine which determines the fruit variety). We carefully select our rootstock based on characteristics such as drought resistance or increased vigor to pair with both the scion wood and the soil type. Because we grow permanent crops, the rootstock we choose is incredibly important. We basically have one chance to get it right, so we carefully research the pairings before planting and grafting. Learn more through this video on our YouTube channel.
Harvest is now underway for yellow and white nectarines. When compared to last year, nectarines were delayed 3-7 days, and peaches were delayed 1-4 days for early season varieties. Peach sizing is on par, but nectarines are a size to a size and a half smaller than last year’s crop thus far. All of the fruit is exhibiting great flavor and quality. Towards the middle to end of May, we started full volume peach and nectarine harvest.
We recently installed a new grading machine at our packing facility in Traver. Last year, we installed the same machine at our plum facility and saw great results, so we’ve added another machine for peaches and nectarines. It performs vision-based defect sorting and removes any fruit not meeting our programmed visual specifications. After going through defect sorting, the fruit is checked by graders before going to packers, so that the packers no longer need to re-grade the fruit. This helps us ensure that only the very best fruit is packed into HMC boxes, and helps deal with the ongoing labor shortage we’ve experienced in more recent years.
Summer has arrived, and it looks like it’s going to be a hot one! There’s nothing better than sitting by the pool with a cold drink in hand on a hot summer day. Like any good farmers, we like to incorporate our HMC Farms fruit into all kinds of food and beverages. Here’s one of our summer favorites: sparkling white peach sangria.
This is an adult beverage, but a modified version could be made with sparkling water instead of the alcoholic beverages in our recipe.
What you’ll need:
3 or more HMC Farms white peaches (more fruit = more flavor!)
2 small clamshells of raspberries (or about 2 cups)
1 bottle of white wine (we used pinot grigio, but sauvignon blanc would also work)
1 bottle of Prosecco or Champagne
1 cup of peach schnapps
It’s best to start the process the day before serving, but if that ship has sailed, you can start a few hours before you plan to serve the sangria.
Begin by chopping the HMC Farms white peaches into small to medium sized chunks. Put the chopped peaches and raspberries into a pitcher, and add the white wine and peach schnapps – let this mixture sit overnight (or at least for a few hours). Add the Prosecco just before serving, and enjoy!