Peppers prove popular in desert

05/03/2013 11:36:00 AM
Tom Burfield

Bell peppers are one of the leading crops grown in the California desert, and grower-shippers anticipate a strong crop this spring.

Prime Time International, Coachella, Calif., started its green bell peppers the third week of April and should kick off its miniature sweet peppers and red and yellow bell peppers by mid-May, said Mike Aiton, director of marketing.

Thanks to good growing conditions, Aiton expected a “nice size crop” from good, healthy plants.

The more the company can harvest before Memorial Day, May 27, the more sales weeks the company will have for its spring crop, he said.

“All in all, we’re quite enthused about the upcoming year,” Aiton said.

Prime Time will transition its pepper program to Bakersfield toward the end of June.

Most of the company’s bell peppers are field grown, he said, but Prime Time has two greenhouses encompassing a total of 80 acres growing blocky bell peppers. The company also has greenhouses in Mexico.

Bakersfield, Calif.-based Sun World International LLC will start its Coachella Valley program in mid-May, said Gene Coughlin, sales representative for domestic peppers.

The company will ship mostly elongated red bell peppers under the La Rouge Royale label through June.

Volume should be similar to last year, and quality was looking good in late April.

“We haven’t had any weather issues to speak of,” he said.

Sun World will transition to the San Joaquin Valley when the Coachella Valley deal is over.

A good growing season should manifest itself in the form of good quality bell peppers during the entire Coachella Valley season, said Franz De Klotz, managing partner of Pasha Marketing LLC, Mecca, Calif., a division of Richard Bagdasarian.

The company started picking green bell peppers April 15 and eggplant April 22. Eggplant should be available until early July.

This will mark the second year Pasha Marketing has extended its pepper season, shipping out of the Coachella Valley from April to June, and then sourcing through Edison, Calif.-based Johnston Farms in June and July.

Red and yellow bell peppers should be available starting the first week of May. They, too, will transition to the Bakersfield area in June and continue through July.

A mild winter should result in a good spring crop, De Klotz said.

Peter Rabbit Farms, Coachella, has a green desert bell pepper variety that produces predominantly large, extra-large and jumbo peppers, said John Burton, general manager, sales and cooler.

Picking started in mid-April for the greens, and the company also should be picking red and yellow peppers by May 6.


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