Bdabadabda that’s all folks! Our stone fruit season for now ends with the Snow Giant white peach. We have a few new varieties coming on next year that will take us through August but that’s then and now is what we have. Figs, grapes, pears, and apples are scheduled for the dessert corner of your boxes in the near future; all exciting stuff.
So what kind of a season was it Uncle Vern? Well, if there’s a way to call stone fruit harvest casual, it was the most casual harvest of my 42 years of signing the payroll checks. For whatever reason (when we don’t know we blame it on the weather) our orchards were about 20% light overall. That obviously means 20% less work. You wouldn’t think that 20% less would be that big a deal, but it really took the pressure down in all areas. And the varieties came in their proper sequence…like they’re supposed to…unlike how they have the last few years…almost like the farmer had a plan when he chose those varieties.
When you’re part of a fruit system that serves North America, it’s just as important how you fit in with the rest of the continent, not just how your product in your area is faring, and this year we had a perfect storm. Citrus was short not only from California but, because of the greening disease, Florida and Texas are in crisis. We were 20% short; Georgia and the Carolinas lost 80% of their stone fruit to freeze and also most of their blueberries. The desert melons and grapes were fried in that 130-degree spell we had back there, even our local grapes had some reduction from that heat. Demand has exceeded supply since April and is just catching up this week.
Those were the positives; on the negative side, we had two challenges. First, because of all the rain, we had a difficult time with decay problems. We could see it in the orchard and all the way through.
The second problem has been 20% less fruit means 20% less work for all the people involved in our harvest, from field to packing to cold storage. That makes me sad. Believe it or not, I really like signing large payroll checks for everybody over a several month period. That just hasn’t been the case this year. The 20% reduction in crop meant more like a 30% reduction in pay because most of the overtime evaporated; lean citrus harvest followed by a lean stone fruit harvest makes for a lean year.
Back to the positive side, there’s lots of ice cold snow melt coming down the Kings River on these hot days, and since work’s done early, a couple hour float with friends after work completely changes your perspective on everything. It’s something we haven’t been able to enjoy for the past few years of drought but we sure are making up for it this year; and it’s free!
We would have paid a lot for the pleasure — if we had the time — during the drought. So, I guess life’s what you make it; there’s always a bright side.
I’m never sure what will be interesting to everyone, so I just share the view from our back porch each week and hope you find it enjoyable.