Lyon artichokes peak at Beachside Produce

04/16/2014 12:51:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Beachside Produce LLC expects peak volumes of its proprietary lyon artichoke variety April through June.

The Guadalupe, Calif.-based grower-shipper produces the artichoke, a perennial, mostly in the state’s Lompoc and Santa Maria valleys.

The lyon is packed in sizes 12, 15, 18, 24 and 30. Four-count bags and long-stem size 18s also are available.

“It’s a perennial variety, not one of the seeded varieties you replant every year,” Bob Montgomery, artichoke commodity manager, said March 25. “You cut it back and it re-grows each season. The plants have re-grown now, and we’re ready to get started.”

Volumes will lighten out in July and August after fields are cut back again, then come on for a second crop from September to November.

“This variety is known for making a big, heavy artichoke,” Montgomery said. “It’s got a big heart to it with good fleshy leaves, and the flavor is fantastic.”

Beachside Produce, which promotes the lyon seasonally, is keeping its artichoke acreage close to last year’s levels. Still, Montgomery said, producers have gotten a boost from increased attention by consumers to the vegetable.

“The whole awareness of the artichoke as a commodity has grown in the last few years and only more so since the artichoke became the state vegetable,” he said. “For the industry, it’s done nothing but help.”

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed artichokes the state vegetable — and avocados the state fruit — last April.

The company also grows and ships broccoli, its largest crop, as well as strawberries, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, spinach, kale, cilantro and leeks.

Brussels sprouts in the region finished in late March. They’ll be back in early July.

Lack of plentiful water is a problem in Santa Maria and Lompoc as elsewhere in the state, but Beachside Produce and other growers there are not as bad off as some San Joaquin Valley producers of fruits and vegetables are.

“Crop yields are good and quality is fantastic,” Montgomery said. “Water is an issue that affects everybody. But at this point we have enough.”



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