SALINAS, Calif. — As artichoke production gains momentum in California this spring, Pacific International Marketing plans to offer the green globe variety for the first time.
“We’ll be selling an additional 300 acres of artichokes out of the Salinas Valley,” said Henry Dill, sales manager at the Salinas, Calif.-based company.
Small quantities had already been packed in early February. Full capacity is expected in early April.
The artichokes will be marketed under the Mammoth label of grower Martin Jefferson & Sons, as well as Pacific International’s own label.
“We’ve marketed artichokes before, but they were coastal globes and seeded artichokes, not green globes,” Dill said. “For some of the retail customers we’re servicing, with logistics they couldn’t always afford to make multiple pickups with their trucks.
“We’re not going to be able to get as aggressive as Ocean Mist as far as promotions go, but we’ll have enough acreage that we can take on a few retailers and be able to do a good job.”
Artichokes are harvested year-round in California. Though volumes vary considerably, Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms consistently leads in that category.
Catching up from freeze
A mid-January freeze put the brakes on Castroville artichokes, but they’re quickly catching up, Art Barrientos, vice president of harvesting at Ocean Mist, said Feb. 15.
“The plants have come back strong and we’re setting up for a pretty good spring,” Barrientos said. “Volume will be very similar to last spring’s harvest. It will start increasing in March and you’ll start seeing good volume by March 15. By then you can’t hold the plants back.”
“We’ve been talking about doing some promotions,” he said.
Much farther south, Ocean Mist’s artichoke crop in California’s Coachella Valley was in full bloom in mid-February.
“Quality has been very nice down here,” Barrientos said during a visit to the area. “We peaked the last couple weeks and we’ll have very good volumes through mid-March, when the
Castroville perennial transitions in. Any of the frosted artichokes that we had up to a week or so ago — that’s all gone, and we’re harvesting clean fruit now.”
The perennial is a green globe. Ocean Mist also has an annual that’s a hybrid.
In Oxnard, Calif., Boskovich Farms Inc. reports supply is up on its Mexico-grown artichokes.
“We’ve probably doubled since last year, thanks to more acreage and better yield,” said Russ Widerburg, sales manager.