In spite of some recent heavy rainfall, grower-shippers in California’s Kern County said they were anticipating an on-time start for this year’s deal.
Rain forced a slight delay on the start of lettuce and cabbage, but harvest of those items began April 13, said Danny Andrews, owner of Bakersfield, Calif.-based Dan Andrews Farms LLC.
Andrews started the deal with iceberg lettuce, green and red cabbage. He will have carrots, which he will channel through Grimmway Farms’ network, in June, and melons in July.
April brought plenty of rain, Andrews said.
“Currently, we’ve had record April rainfall for Bakersfield,” he said the week of April 12.
“We set two records this week — we’ve had 3 inches in three days, which broke two all-time records.”
It was frustrating, he said.
“It’s great to get rain, but it’s delaying harvest and we may get tractors stuck in the field harvesting,” he said. “Who knows? The crop may not hold as long as it normally holds because of the late season.”
Andrews said the overabundant moisture may bring difficulties for melon planting.
“Melons, we’re worried seeds might not germinate properly and there may be lighter yields in a light harvest and we might have to replant for July harvest,” he said.
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Edison, Calif.-based Johnston Farms was finishing up its citrus in mid-April and was turning its attention to potatoes, with a May 10 expected start, and peppers, June 1, said Dennis Johnston, owner.
“Weather has been warmer than normal, but the last two or three weeks have been rainy and cool and slowed the potatoes and peppers down a bit, so the potatoes will be about a week later,” he said.
In spite of overabundant recent rains, the potato crop looked “very good,” while the peppers were just in the flowering stage as of April 12, Johnston said.
“It’s supposed to dry out and get some warmth, so normally we do have a good crop,” he said. “I’d say three weeks we had rain starting and lots of rain — more than we’re used to.”
Rainy weather hadn’t affected the carrot crop at Arvin, Calif.-based Kern Ridge Growers LLC, salesman Doug Stewart said.
“We’re moving carrots and citrus; everything is going really good,” he said.
“The carrot crop looks good. We’re trying to keep up with the fields in production. Rain hasn’t affected anything. We’re digging down south.”
Edison-based Kirschenman Enterprises Inc. was harvesting potatoes in the Coachella Valley, said Wayde Kirschenman, owner and president.
“Crop quality seems to be very, very good,” he said. “The crop we’re digging in the Coachella area seems to be the best we’ve had in years.”
Kirschenman will begin harvesting white, red and yellow spuds in Bakersfield around May 1, he said.
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“Lot of rain the last few days, but it’s clearing out and supposed to be nice,” he said.
Kirschenman saw the rainfall as a benefit.
“It’s nice to get some of the good rains,” he said. “The rain didn’t do any damage; it was good to have.”
Kirschenman also has table grapes, which should start in Kern County at the end of June.
“A lot have been pushed out because (of) too much supply,” he said.
“There will be less grapes this year. It has nothing to do with COVID, but all to do with declining markets. There will be less production.”
Some grape varieties were pulled out in favor of new varieties, and that will lead to less volume, he said.
“Overall, 10% of production in the industry got pulled out from a year ago because of saturation of markets,” he said.
Bakersfield-based TD Produce Sales anticipates a good potato crop, beginning with whites April 27 and reds and yellows May 4, said Tom Drulias, owner.
“The crop is coming along fine,” he said. “We’ve had some cool weather here and a lot of rain over the last three days, and maybe that has slowed things up a little bit.”
Everything was “pretty much” on time, he said.
“Quality looks good with all the varieties at this time on the samples I’ve seen from the field,” he said.