HMC News – July 2020

McClarty family from HMC Farms walking through orchard

The Fourth of July not only celebrates the independence of our country, but it also marks the “spiritual” half way mark of the stone fruit season, and is the historically referenced start date for grape harvest in our area. The first six weeks of the season definitely require the most effort. We are generally still thinning through early June while picking the most temperamental and time sensitive varieties of the season. The Fourth of July is a point in time at which we reflect, look forward, and take a quick break with our families. We hope you had a moment to relax and celebrate over the holiday (hopefully with a peach in hand).

Table grape cane cutting equipment in a vineyard at HMC Farms

This month, we used Cane Cutters in our table grape vineyards. This equipment cuts excess growth in the centers of the rows with blades that form an upside down V shape in order to increase sunlight and air flow. Increased sunlight helps our red and black seedless grape varieties gain color, and extra air flow helps to prevent disease pressure in grape clusters and vines.

Crews harvesting table grapes at HMC farms using umbrellas

HMC Farms table grape harvest is now underway in our vineyards, kicking off our table grape season! Overnight lows have remained under 70°F, which is great for color development in our red and black seedless table grape varieties. 

HMC Farms table grape vineyard drip irrigation line and soil moisture

HMC Farms regularly monitors soil moisture to ensure that we are providing the proper amount of irrigation to our trees and vines. We combine several sources of information from physical examination to sensors, and even the weather forecast, to determine the proper frequency and duration of irrigation. This topic was featured in our Farm Friday Instagram story, a weekly behind the scenes look at what’s happening at HMC Farms. Find us on Instagram here, and follow along with our Farm Fridays!

Boy bites into a freshly picked peach in an orchard at HMC Farms

It’s been a vintage year so far for California stone fruit. We have received more than normal complimentary letters about the great tasting stone fruit. Newer varieties and a discipline to only pick the most mature fruit has put these summertime favorites back on top. We are half way through the season and should have good eating well into September.

HMC News – June 2020

Our platform equipment is now being used for harvest in our high density stone fruit orchards! This is an exciting moment for us, since this concept has taken three years of hard work and dedication to come to fruition.

Nectarine harvest at HMC Farms using new ag technology: platform equipment

We recently installed an optical grader to the packline in our plum packing house at HMC Reedley. The optical sorter not only improves our efficiency by automatically removing fruit with defects before it reaches the pack tables, but it also provides detailed statistics about each lot of fruit that help us improve our practices out in the field.  Our plum team is pictured above (Raul, Paula, Nick and Greg).

Personnel from HMC Reedley's plum team standing by new plum grader equipment

Veraison is just beginning in our Flame table grapes, which is the point at which ripening begins. Red and black varieties begin to change color, and green varieties lose some opacity as natural sugars begin to accumulate in the berries. These particular grapes will be ready to harvest next month.

Veraison in HMC Farms table grapes, grape color is changing from green to red

We are excited to begin harvest of our proprietary Plumsicle™ later this week. This piece of fruit was selected purely for flavor reasons and we think it is unequivocally the best tasting plum or plumcot of the season (don’t tell the Holiday plum, Honey Punch, or Ebony Rose that we said that). They will be available this season in 1# clams and 2# bags, with the variety name itself proudly featured on the package.

Plumsicle™ proprietary plum or plumcot variety displayed in 2lb bag and 1lb clam packaging

HMC News – May 2020

Harvest has begun in our stone fruit orchards! At this point, the fruit is a little smaller than normal due to the decreased amount of time between bloom and harvest, and the timing is a little ahead of last year.  

It’s hot!  Last week we experienced rain and peak temperatures around 72°, this week’s record projected heat is as high as 109°. Grapes and stone fruit don’t like this heat any more than people. In stone fruit, extreme heat slows everything down and halts growth, causing some heat damage to the fruit – especially dark colored plums. In table grapes, any of the exposed berries not covered by foliage will burn.

A few months ago, we increased efficiency and eliminated the need for ladders by using platforms in our high density stone fruit orchards. Since then, we have started to experiment by attaching an artificial light to the same equipment to perform “night thinning.” Beginning before the sun comes up, crews are able to finish this crucial process in the cool morning hours. Going forward, we will modify our picking by transitioning this process into harvest, resulting in an optimal product by removing the afternoon heat. This is an efficient operation that benefits the workers and product by eliminating the summer heat.

We are moving rake wire in our table grape vineyards. This process opens up a wire in the middle of the trellis that helps guide and organize the canes and their growth to conform to the V shape of the trellis. There are multiple benefits of rake wire use. It helps get all of the clusters to hang out in the “fruiting zone” underneath the trellis, making maintenance and harvest more efficient. Sunlight is allowed in to hit the bottom of canes, which helps with fruitfulness in next year’s crop. A pocket forms for air to flow and escape, reducing chances of humidity getting trapped underneath the canopy.

HMC News – September 25, 2019

We are currently in the process of placing vine cover on our late season grape varieties. Vine cover protects grapes from early rain in September and October. The timing of the cover placement is important because we don’t want to cover the vines in very hot temperatures and trap heat around the grapes, but we also want to protect the grapes from rainfall as early as possible. We normally begin covering our grape vines in early to mid September, when we begin to see chances of precipitation in the forecast.

Crop Update:

Harvest continues to slow for HMC Farms tree fruit. Table grape harvest is in full swing. Timco red seedless grapes have begun harvest. Allison red seedless and Autumn King green seedless grapes will harvest soon. The weather on our farms has jumped back into the 90s for a few days, but the forecast shows a progressive drop in high temperatures, putting highs in the 70s to start next week.

HMC News – September 18, 2019

Holiday plums are here! We wait all year for this HMC Farms proprietary red plum that has green undertones, speckled skin, and a sweet and distinctive flavor. Contact your HMC Farms salesperson for more information on availability.

Crop Update:

Harvest is slowing for HMC Farms tree fruit. Scarlet Royal and Krissy red seedless table grapes and Autumn King green seedless table grapes are in harvest. Timco and Allison red seedless grapes will harvest soon. The forecast shows high temperatures ranging from the low 80s to the low 90s. We are closely monitoring any chances of early rain, which tend to pop up in the second half of September.

HMC News – September 11, 2019

HMC Farms just won the Buyer’s Choice Award with our new SpongeBob™ and PAW Patrol™ grape multipacks at the California Food Expo! For more information on these products, contact Chelsea: chelseak@hmcfarms.com. These products will be in the Fresh Ideas Showcase at PMA Fresh Summit, where HMC Farms will be present at booth #3079. Contact your HMC Farms salesperson if you’d like to schedule a time to meet at PMA regarding this or other topics.

Crop Update:

Harvest is slowing for HMC Farms tree fruit. Holiday plums are now available! Krissy and Scarlet Royal red seedless table grapes, and Great Green green seedless table grapes are in harvest. Timco and Allison red seedless and Autumn King green seedless grapes will harvest soon. The forecast shows fluctuating temperatures. At this point in the year, we have to watch out for chances of early rain.

HMC News – September 4, 2019

HMC Farms is competing in the California Food Expo’s Golden State Award with our new SpongeBob™ and PAW Patrol™ grape multipacks. This award is based on social media likes on the product photo on Instagram and Facebook. Help us win by liking the photo on both platforms! For more information on how to purchase these products, contact Chelsea: chelseak@hmcfarms.com.

Crop Update:

Harvest is slowing down a bit for HMC Farms peaches, plums, and nectarines. Table grape harvest continues with Krissy and Scarlet Royal red seedless table grapes, and Ivory and Great Green green seedless table grapes in harvest. Timco red seedless grapes will harvest soon, followed by Allison red seedless and Autumn King green seedless grape harvest beginning near the end of the month. The forecast shows a few more hot days, with a break in the heat over the weekend and into next week.

5 Facts About Peaches

It’s the last day of National Peach Month, and we’ve got some fun facts about peaches for you!

Click here to download the PDF version of 5 facts about peaches.

Caramelized Peaches Recipe

We love homemade ice cream! We actually love it so much that we occasionally make it at the HMC Farms office. Something about homemade vanilla ice cream on a hot day just makes everything better, but we like to elevate our ice cream just a bit with the topping we can’t live without: caramelized peaches.

This recipe is enough for about 14-16 bowls of ice cream.

What you’ll need:

  • 8 large HMC Farms peaches
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup of packed light brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Start by slicing or chopping your HMC Farms peaches, discarding the pits. Place the peaches in a bowl and mix in the fresh lemon juice, sea salt, and cinnamon.

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a skillet on medium heat. Once the butter has melted and combined with the sugar, add the peaches and increase to medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.

When the juice from the peaches, butter, and sugar have reduced into a thicker consistency, remove the pan from heat and let it stand a little before serving.

Tips:

Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to split this into 2 different batches, the peaches should not be more than 2 pieces deep when putting them in the pan to cook.

Warm peaches are delicious, but if they are too hot they will melt the ice cream rapidly. Let the peaches stand a bit to cool before using them as topping for your ice cream.

Peaches straight from the pan are hot! When taste testing, let the peaches cool slightly to avoid burning your mouth.

If ice cream isn’t your thing, caramelized peaches can also be added to yogurt.

HMC News – August 28, 2019

Drew and Alex from our HMC Farms grape team recently took a trip to Murcia, Spain, to visit the Sheehan Genetics grape breeding facility. The trip enabled Drew and Alex to explore the new varieties in development at Sheehan, some of which will soon arrive to the United States to be planted. We continuously search for new varieties with the best flavor and eating quality, which also fit into certain time frames during our grape harvest season. The trip was very informative, and we are excited for what the future will bring!

Crop Update:

Harvest remains ongoing for HMC Farms peaches, plums, nectarines, and table grapes. Krissy and Scarlet Royal red seedless table grapes are in harvest, with Timco harvesting soon. Ivory green seedless table grapes are in harvest, with Great Green harvesting soon. The forecast shows peak temperatures mostly in the high 90s, with overnight lows in the mid 60s.