Yesterday I spent a few minutes chatting with our produce buyer Tim about summer fruits. Last week’s heatwave was a focal part of the conversation. Ten days straight of temperatures over 100 degrees in the Central Valley impacts ripening and harvests. With solstice (June 20th) marking the longest day of the year, the sun had even more hours in a day to heat things up.
The remarkable thing about this recent heat spike was how hot it remained in the valley at night. The delta breeze normally helps cool things down when the sun sets. However, that was not the case last week. Some of our farmer friends reported that temperatures remained as high as 80 degrees all night long.
With temperatures like these, apricots can cook from the inside out, rendering an unpleasant flesh to the fruit. This happens when the pit gets so hot (usually from temperatures around 105 to 108) that it remains hot like a pizza stone and continues cooking the fruit into mush. Grapes that are just entering versaison, when the skin changes color from green to black are also particularly vulnerable during heat spikes. The grapes become raisins, without any sweetness. And tomato blossoms abort when temperatures are over 100 degrees.
Of course, these challenges are all par for the course of a farmer’s life. And it is our job (more accurately, that of our produce buyer, Tim and his team) to source the best harvests of the season while supporting our farmers through the triumphs and tribulations of the season.
Of particular delight right now are watermelons, (juicy, sweet and crunchy) and cherries (just starting to arrive from our northern friends in Washington).
Thanks for reading!