Bell market rings; reds slow to answer - The Packer

Bell market rings; reds slow to answer

11/14/2013 11:13:00 AM
Mike Hornick

Courtesy Baloian FarmsFresno, Cali.-based Baloian Farms' green pepper quality and color is strong this season. However the cool weather in the region may push back production of red peppers.California desert grower-shippers have ample supplies of green bell peppers in large and extra large sizes, but some are waiting longer than expected for reds to turn color.

“Volume on green is outstanding, with thick walls,” John Burton, general manager of sales and cooler for Coachella, Calif.-based Peter Rabbit Farms, said Nov. 6. “But cool nights have settled in — in the low 40s — and it’s pushed my red harvest back a week to two weeks behind normal peak. I should be peaking right now, but I’m probably not going to harvest bigger numbers on reds until Nov. 18.”

“Color has been really nice on the green peppers,” said Jeremy Lane, sales manager for Fresno, Calif.-based Baloian Farms. “During the desert fall season we don’t get quite the leaf canopy, which means more light on the plant and more color on the peppers. We’re hoping for the same to be true with the reds, the minis and baby bell peppers. They’re heavy and dense too, and developing a nice thick wall. It’s just a matter of turning color.”

Baloian Farms, which loads desert product in Thermal, Calif., started green bell pepper production in the region Oct. 28. Green beans came online Nov. 4.

“We were hoping to start reds, minis and babies in about two weeks, but it’s a little cooler now so it could be as late as three weeks,” Lane said Nov. 4.

Sun World International planned to start its field-grown elongated red peppers, marketed as Le Rouge Royal, in the desert the week of Nov. 4, said Gene Coughlin, category director for peppers at the Bakersfield, Calif.-based grower-shipper. Yellows were expected to follow around Nov. 11.

“We’re pretty bullish on it,” Coughlin said. “There were some high winds in the past few weeks, but we don’t expect a long-term effect. Conditions are good.” Sun World was transitioning from Oxnard.

Desert peppers, whatever their schedule, can expect an eager greeting in the marketplace.

“Compared to the last couple of years, which were not terrific for the pepper deal, summer supply was a bit shorter just because there was less acreage,” Coughlin said. “Pricing seemed to hold better through the summer and that kept going into the fall deal.”

For large green bell peppers, 1 1/9-bushel cartons were shipping for $12.95-4.95 Nov. 11 out of the Coachella Valley, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Year-ago prices were $9.95-10.95.


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