HMC Farms has a strong relationship with the California Association of Food Banks and the Farm to Family program. Each year, we donate hundreds of thousands of pounds of fruit to help feed hungry families in our state. In 2018, HMC Farms donated more than 500,000 pounds of fruit to the Farm to Family program.
Harvest remains ongoing for HMC Farms peaches, plums, nectarines, Flame red seedless table grapes and Ivory green seedless table grapes. Krissy red seedless table grapes are now in harvest as well. Our peach and nectarine harvest season is about 2/3 complete at this point. The forecast shows highs of 105° or higher for the next few days before dropping into the mid to high 90s.
Ivory green seedless table grapes are now being harvested! This marks the beginning of our green table grape season at HMC Farms. Ivory grapes boast large berries with crisp texture and a sweet flavor.
Harvest remains ongoing for HMC Farms peaches, plums, nectarines, and Flame red seedless table grapes. The weather in the coming days should include a bit of relief from the persistent heat, with peak temperatures in the mid to low 90s for most of the forecast. Overnight lows are settling back in the target range for fruit color and sugar development in our orchards and vineyards.
We are just coming off of a jump from temperatures in the 90s to a ten day stretch of temperatures reaching highs over 100 degrees, at least half of which were 105° or beyond. The heat wave peaked on Sunday, as temperatures hit up to 110° in some places on our farms. Extended periods of high heat can have a significant impact on our crops, especially when overnight lows don’t dip down enough to give our trees and vines some relief. We typically like the overnight lows to be in the mid 60s or below during the summer to allow for color and sugar development. A heat wave like this slows our production, increases stress on trees and vines, and reduces our harvest to half days because it’s too hot for crews to harvest.
Harvest remains ongoing for HMC Farms peaches, plums, nectarines, and Flame red seedless table grapes. Ivory green seedless table grapes are on track to begin harvest soon. The forecast shows highs dipping slightly to the high 90s for a few days before popping back up into the 100s over the weekend for another five days.
HMC Farms employees and their families volunteered at the Central California Food Bank’s new distribution center in Fresno last week. The Central California Food Bank covers five different counties, and serves more than 280,000 people each month. While HMC Farms donates regularly to local food banks, it was nice for employees to get a more in-depth understanding of the functions of the food bank at this event. The volunteers joined forces to create 600 food boxes for distribution to hungry families, and even had the opportunity to see the McClarty Family Training Room, named for a donation made by the McClarty Family Foundation.
Harvest continues for HMC Farms peaches, plums, nectarines, and red table grapes. Ivory green seedless table grapes will begin harvest within the next week. The forecast shows a lot of hot and sunny days in the week ahead, with a sweltering ten day stretch of highs over 100°.
Flame red seedless grapes are now in harvest at HMC Farms. Flames are the first of our California table grape varieties to harvest. As you can see in the photo, our trellis system and ongoing maintenance—including pruning and tying vines—have come together to create clean and organized vineyard rows. The trellis raises the height of the grape bunches, further contributing to ease of harvest and also providing shaded protection from the sun.
Harvest continues for HMC Farms peaches, plums, and nectarines. Our red table grapes began harvest this week, as mentioned above, and our Ivory green seedless table grapes will begin harvest in about 10-14 days. The forecast shows a slight drop in heat, with peak temperatures ranging from the mid 90s to low 100s and overnight lows in the 60s.
HMC Farms recently hosted a group of college students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Fresno State University who are participating in the Western Growers Careers in Ag program. The students mostly represent STEM majors (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and visited HMC Farms to learn about different types of careers available to them at a vertically integrated farming business. In addition to an open discussion about potential careers and the future of agriculture, the students were able to visit our orchards and vineyards to get an up-close view of our farming activities.
Harvest remains ongoing for HMC Farms peaches, plums, and nectarines. Our early table grape varieties are on the cusp of harvest. The forecast shows hot and sunny days ahead, with highs in the 100s beginning Friday, and lasting until at least the middle of next week – the longest stretch of days 100° or higher we’ve had this year.
Western Growers (a non-profit organization that represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico) is collaborating with Fresno State University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to create the Careers In Ag program. This program introduces students, who are mostly made up of STEM-related majors (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), to the wide variety of potential careers in agriculture. On a tour of businesses in the Central Valley, the Careers in Ag group visited HMC Farms to cover the topics of farm management, sustainability, plant science, and innovation. Several members of the McClarty family met with the students, discussing their different areas of responsibility and how farming, ag technology, accounting, and sales all fit together to make HMC Farms a successful ag business with a very diverse set of career opportunities within one organization. In addition to open dialogue about different departments and career options at HMC Farms, Harold McClarty discussed the issues faced by California farmers, and the future of ag in the Central Valley with the students.
After the discussion held at the HMC Farms main office, the students headed out to the farms. Drew Ketelsen, Farm Manager and head of our technology projects, introduced the Careers in Ag students to different innovative techniques and technologies we have put in place to become more efficient. He discussed his background in civil engineering, and how that skillset has translated into farm management to transform our planting and irrigation methods. Students observed the difference between an orchard planted in the traditional method and one set up using a high density close-planting method. This new method of planting will ultimately make multiple farming activities, such as pruning and harvesting, more efficient using new ag technologies.
We are thankful to Western Growers for giving HMC Farms the opportunity to show STEM students how they can fit into the world of agriculture, and to hear their questions and concerns about careers in ag. We may have just met the future leaders of industry!
To learn more about the Western Growers Careers in Ag program, read this article.
Our table grapes have moved into the veraison stage. During veraison, the berries on the grape clusters begin to soften and change color, as pictured above. This color change marks the onset of ripening. From this point, the grapes pictured above will ripen fairly quickly.
Harvest remains ongoing for HMC Farms peaches, plums, and nectarines. Table grape harvest is still tracking slightly behind last year’s harvest dates, but will begin soon. Weather over the past 10-14 days has been very cooperative with the start of our table grape veraison. Hot and sunny days are in the forecast, just touching 100° over the weekend before dropping back down, but overnight lows should remain mostly in the low 60s.
Last week, a group of California State Senators and representatives from the California Fresh Fruit Association visited HMC Farms in order to get a behind-the-scenes look into what farming is like, and the difficulties that farmers in California face. We always welcome the opportunity to educate our politicians about the risks and opportunities we face as a farming business in California. Our guests included Senators Steven Glazer from Orinda (7th district), Melissa Hurtado from Sanger (14th district), Scott Wiener from San Francisco (11th district), General Richard Roth from Riverside (31st district), and Bob Wieckowski from Fremont (10th district).
Harvest remains ongoing for HMC Farms peaches, nectarines, and plums. We are in the last week of bunch thinning in our table grape vineyards, which will essentially wrap up pre-harvest labor. Table grape harvest is still a couple of weeks away. A slight break in heat is in this week’s forecast, with temperatures climbing back up to the mid 90s by Monday.
This month, University of California, Davis professors hopped in two vans and took a road trip to visit HMC Farms. The visit was part of an ongoing relationship between UC Davis and HMC Farms that stretches back many years. On the trip, professors were able to get a well-rounded understanding of our specific commodities, farming practices, and the issues we face today.
By meeting with farmers and other employees who are working actively in the subject matter being taught at UC Davis, the professors had the opportunity to ask questions and gain knowledge from a different perspective outside the classroom. In turn, the HMC Farms team had the opportunity to become educated on current research projects and studies being conducted at the university which pertain to our particular segment of agriculture. As part of our sustained commitment to education, this meeting was a way to bridge the gap between what’s being taught in the classroom at UC Davis, and what is taking place every day at HMC Farms. We hope to continue hosting meetings like this on a regular basis in order to maintain an open dialogue with institutions like UC Davis, which are educating the future leaders of our industry.