Fruit & News of the Week: August 8th


Cal Red Peach
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
The beloved Cal Red is in a class by itself and is the “Oh my God” peach! A relatively new variety and a California native, the Cal Red was bred by University of California botanist Claron O. Hesse in the mid 1960s. Aptly named for the Golden State, the Cal Red is a beautiful golden peach marked with a gentle, sun-kissed blush.

O’Henry Peach
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
Farmer Al’s favorite peach to grill, the O’Henry has the flavor, size, and crimson blush that makes for a truly memorable peach. It’s elegantly pointed shape slices to an attractive heart shape for striking presentation. Our O’Henry harvest overlaps briefly with our harvest of the Cal Red leading to a matchup of two of our biggest varieties. At participating farmers markets, our Battle of the Peaches taste-offs between these two varieties grows more and more popular each year.

Summer Fire Nectarine
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
The Summer Fire has a firm meaty flesh that isn’t as juicy as some of our other varieties but is packed with a red wine intensity that makes it a memorable and desirable nectarine. Often with a deeper reddish hue than the Fantasia, the Summer Fire is a variety that’s worth the extra effort it takes to slice and pit a clingstone: its warm yellow flesh is streaked beautifully with red near the pit.

Flavor King Pluot
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
A dark-skinned pluot with red flesh, it has an intense rich flavor combined with sweet, spicy tones that are reminiscent of the Santa Rosa. A nice acid bite and firm texture that softens beautifully as the fruit continues to ripen, the Flavor King is amazing out of hand and equally good for baking.

Flavor Heart Pluot
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
The Flavor Heart gets its name from its distinctively tapered shape. Its meaty, pale yellow flesh is very low in acid and the sweetness and color contrasts strikingly with its dark purple almost black skin.

Red Seedless Grapes
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
Enjoy these out of hand or try them in green salads, chicken salads, or fruit salads. Grapes can be enjoyed from the counter within a few days of receiving your box or refrigerated to enjoy them further into the week.


Dear CSA Members:

Pears. The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

This has been “Pear Week” here at Frog Hollow Farm. I keep a watchful eye on Warren Pears beginning mid-July and as soon as I see 2 or 3 fruits on the ground, I know it’s almost time to pick. The pear “industry” professionals use a pressure gauge to decide when to pick, and while I have one, I almost never use it. But when I find that first fruit on the ground, I do pull out my refractometer (it measures BRIX, or the sugar content of the fruit) to check how sweet the pears are! The first one I “brixed” was a phenomenal 19. A truly sweet pear! We immediately started picking. That was one week ago today, July 29th, 2016, the earliest start date for the pears ever. Warrens this year could be the best EVER, that’s the “good” news. The ‘bad” news is it’s a really light crop and we definitely will not have enough to keep us in pears until Christmas, like we usually do.

The really bad news has to do with some of the trees themselves, not the fruit.

In 2003 we planted a 10 acre block of trees, 1/2 of which were Warrens, 1/4 were Bosc and 1/4 Taylors Gold. We got all the trees from a nursery we ALWAYS use and have been using for years – our “go to” grower of our pears trees, the Warren pears in this block are having a major problem. It’s BAD. And, it’s UGLY.

Ugly because 1). The leaves are all yellow

                                       2). The leaves are small and stunted

This could turn out to be the biggest disaster to ever happen to us here at Frog Hollow Farm. There is something very wrong with these trees. I have started to think it may be an incompatibility between the Warren variety and the rootstock the trees are grafted on. This is the structure of the tree and there is only one solution; remove the trees and start over… meaning, get new trees and replant 5 acres. This is going to be extremely expensive. Not only the expense of tearing out the trees, preparing the ground for the new trees and purchasing the new trees, but the loss of revenue for 6 years (that’s how long it takes for pear trees to start producing). Ufdah.

This is a devastating turn of events for us and our customers. At least we still have about 6 acres of Warren Pears in other blocks that are on different rootstock and are looking happy and healthy.

Meanwhile, we’ve called all the experts to come look at the trees to study the problem. Janet Caprile, our Contra Costa County Farm advisor, spent 2 hours looking at the trees yesterday and she couldn’t figure it out. Gregg Young, our organic advisor, has been following the tree’s decline for 2 years and he’s also “at a loss”. The nursery we purchased the trees from in 2003 is sending their research professional next week to see if they can figure it out.

Pears are being pesky problems this year. First with “Fireblight” and now this. Farming is a gamble. This year the odds are not in our favor. It isn’t very often in my 40 years of farming I have felt discouraged. This would be one of those times.

I’ll definitely keep everyone informed as to what happens next.

Farmer AL

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