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Organic blackberries enjoy lengthy season in California

The blackberry season continues on in California, as other states begin to finish their summer harvest. Central West Produce, a company that exclusively produces organic blackberries, is one grower that is looking forward to an extended blackberry season.

"We only grow organic blackberries in our California operations," said Lori Gallegos of Central West. "The North Carolina season starts at the end of June and will end very shortly, in the first week of October. Here in California, we grow our blackberries in Santa Maria, but we also have regions in Oxnard and in Salinas. Our Santa Maria season goes from mid April through to November, and at this time of year, is the only region where we are growing blackberries."

Dedicated operations ensure organic compliance and quality
Central West have been growing strawberries in California for 35 years, but only recently launched blackberries. "This is our 3rd season growing blackberries," continued Gallegos. "When the company began the crop, they decided to go straight-out organic." 

When deciding to grow organic, Gallegos noted that the company also employed the use of 'High Tunnel' hoop houses in which the blackberries would be grown. "As well as growing organic, we invested in 'High Tunnel' plastic hoop houses to better control their environment," she said. "The hoop houses are approximately 9ft tall, and fit 4 rows of blackberries on both sides. In the center, a person can walk though, so they're quite big. We do this in order to prevent outside influences on the crop, such as rain, any potential pesticides blowing in the wind and dust, which contains other elements. It's a big investment in materials and drip systems, as well as the certification and land required to grow organic," she added. "But we feel it is worth it as the quality is very high and customers pay attention to that. For example, keeping the rain off the fruit enables it to be sweeter so this is something we can offer our customers. The hoop houses have the additional benefit of lengthening our season."

Organic demand strong
Central West Produce see their organic berries performing well on the market and have no plans to expand production with conventional crops. "There is good demand right now for the organic blackberries," added Gallegos. "Although you can never be truly sure where the market is headed, we see that demand growing as customers become more aware of the quality and the high level of antioxidants in the fruit. Our approach to additional production is to ensure we have supply for customers, as opposed to reducing costs per weight. We'd rather have stock available when a customer places an order."

And as the North Carolina season concludes, prices remain strong and will likely head higher as summer production eases off. "The current market price for organic blackberries is between $20-$24 per box of 12, 6oz clamshells," Gallegos said. "In the next week, it is likely to edge higher in the order of an extra $2, and as high as $28 the week after that."

For more information: 
Lori Gallegos
Central West Produce
Tel: +1 (805) 925-2481

Publication date: 9/29/2017
Author: Dennis M. Rettke
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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