Fruit & News of the Week: July 24th 2017

This week’s fruit:

Elegant Lady Peaches
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
Elegant Lady peaches are well named with a beauti- ful balance of sweet and acid along with a brilliant red color. These firm, round, freestone peaches are perfect grilled and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Ruby Grand Nectarines
Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood, CA
Ruby Grand is a naturally fragrant nectarine with an
intense flavor. It’s firm flesh has a melting mouthful
quality and it is a very versatile fruit, excellent for
eating fresh, canning, freezing, and for drying.

Flavor King Pluots
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.

…all varieties are subject to change…

 

A Note from Farmer Al

Dear CSA Members,
Everyone I talk to these days remarks on how unusual and extreme the weather has been this year. This roller coaster ride began with an unexpected super wet winter, ending the drought in just weeks when forecasters had been predicting that it would require years to end our five-year drought, on through a wetter than normal spring, followed by a summer, which has been characterized by moreheat waves than anyone can remember in recent years.

These extreme conditions have produced mixed outcomes for the fruit. We all know that heavy February rains devastated our Apricots. On the other hand, our cherry crop was the best we’ve seen in many years, probably because of the colder winter temperatures that accompanied many of those storms. Peach and Nectarine crops have been a mixed bag as well! For example, our Suncrest peaches have been the sweetest I’ve tasted in years! And they’ve been good sized. However, our Zee Lady and Summer Ladys are unusually small this year. The same is true for all the nectarines we’ve picked so far this year…small, but sweet.

I believe that the excessive rains at the bud-swell stage of growth (late January thru late February) may have caused a mild case of peach leaf curl in the peaches and nectarines. Not enough to curl the leaves, but just enough to weaken them. This condition, during spring when cell-division takes place in the fruit, would mean less dividing, hence smaller fruit. To make matters worse, in May we had a heat wave, which caused the trees to shut down growth due to stress, contributing further to the small fruit effect.

So why is the fruit so sweet this year? That’s an enigma to me. However, many growers believe stress actually raises sugar levels in fruit. Two notable examples of this are grapes and tomatoes. Ever heard of dry-farmed tomatoes being sweeter? That’s due to water-stress. And every vintner knows that grapes grown on hillsides where the soil is not deep and fertile will result in less vigorous vines that bear sweeter grapes. Higher Brix, better wine!The only thing I know for sure is that this year has been a roller coaster ride of extremes, and it’s not over yet.
Regards,
Farmer Al

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