CASTROVILLE, Calif. — The colors of California’s desert winter vegetables this season may rival a New England landscape of fall leaves.
Fresh produce wearing hues of greens, reds, yellows and oranges will soon grace retailer shelves and restaurant dinner plates.
Near-ideal fall weather during the growing season will produce some of the best winter vegetables in years, grower-shippers said.
The artichoke season is winding down on the California coast, but it is in high gear in the desert.
October was the biggest artichoke picking month in the desert.
The excellent weather to date should translate to good quantities of artichokes through December, said Michael Boggiatto, president of Boggiatto Produce Inc., Salinas.
Coastal artichoke giant Ocean Mist, Castroville, is growing the desert crop in the Coachella Valley, said Gary Silacci, sales manager.
Leading the winter harvest parade are some winter varieties of bell peppers.
Picking of green bell peppers at Prime Time International, Coachella, started the week of Oct. 26, said Jeff Taylor, a salesman for the grower-shipper’s marketing division, Prime Time Sales LLC.
“We’re also moving out the last of the field red bell peppers and the red, yellow and orange hothouse peppers from Oxnard,” Taylor said in late October.
Prices for bell peppers could be down slightly from year ago f.o.b.s, Taylor said, because the worldwide demand for seed has eased.
Harvesting of green bell peppers for Fresno-based Baloian Farms began Oct. 29, said Jeremy Lane, sales manager.
Desert bell pepper acreage for Sun World International LLC, Bakersfield, has nearly doubled over the 2008 deal and includes green peppers for the first time in many years, said Stuart Musashi, vice president of southern operations.
“We have 57 acres of greens and 130 acres of reds,” he said.
In recent years, Sun World has been planting only about 100 desert acres of red bell peppers.
Peter Rabbit Farms, Coachella, began harvesting green and red bell peppers in late October, said John Burton, general manager.