FEATURED FRUIT: STRAWBERRIES
THE SWEET TASTE OF SPRING
Plump, juicy strawberries are among the cherished highlights of spring. Sun-ripened, handpicked strawberries are the perfect addition to creamy desserts and sweet breakfasts, and they’re a classic ingredient in smoothies. Many people enjoy sugaring and boiling down early spring strawberries into sweet jams that can be served all season.
The strawberries we offer grow in Watsonville, California, where moderating breezes from Monterey Bay create a cool Mediterranean climate that is perfect for growing very large, sweet berries. Each strawberry is packed in the field, directly from the plant, and then cooled before being shipped from the grower to our customers.
NOW HAPPENING IN THE ORCHARDS
Peach pollination is now complete, and the fruit is set. Our pear orchards are in full bloom, with bees from 1,300 hives pollinating the blossoms. Our frost teams are on full alert, ready to rise in the middle of the night to turn on our sprayers and protect the fragile blooms when necessary.
Gold Nugget mandarin oranges are currently shipping. Grown in the San Joaquin Valley of California, these mandarins are intensely sweet, and professional taste testers consider them to be among the best citrus in the world.
We are now shipping Jazz apples from Washington.
We are currently shipping Comice pears grown in Chile and New Zealand.
How do your orchardists ensure your pears are all ripe when they arrive, even when the weather is different from year to year?
Because pears require cold weather to become sweet, our orchardists pick each pear the moment it ripens, after which we place them in cold storage for up to 30 days. This ensures that every pear in your box will arrive within a day or two of being ready to eat.
How do you get great pears all year round?
We work with growers in multiple parts of the world to ensure that we have access to the right climate to grow top-quality Comice pears all year. Our orchardists fly out to Chile and New Zealand to inspect the pears we select, and we fly orchardists from those countries here to train them so they can provide pears that meet our standards.
When does your pear crop ripen?
Depending on the year, our pears can ripen anywhere from the second week of August to mid-September. The cooler the growing season is, the faster our pears ripen.
When does your peach crop ripen?
Our peaches ripen from the beginning of July into August while the weather’s warm. Unlike pears, peaches ripen faster in warm weather. If we get a cooler fall season, this means the peach crop and pear harvest will sometimes run together.
How do you make sure the best fruit gets into your gifts?
Every peach and pear (the two fruits we grow in our own orchards) is picked by hand sorted in the field. We then use a machine to take 17 pictures and sort them again to weed out imperfections, and finally, before packing, each piece of fruit is looked at one more time, by hand, to ensure only the highest-quality fruit is shipped.
How much fruit do you grow each year?
We grow about 400 tons of Oregold® Peaches, 15,500 tons of Royal Riviera® Pears, and 800 tons of Bosc pears. The total harvest varies based on weather conditions throughout the year.
Where do you grow your apples?
The majority of the apples we sell come from quality growers in Washington, since Washington apples are high quality and can be shipped everywhere in the U.S. From March to July, when apples aren’t in season there, we send our orchardists and merchants to New Zealand, which shares similar climate characteristics to the U.S. Pacific Northwest in many areas.
Where do your Cherry-Oh!® Cherries come from?
We select growers in specific areas for our cherries—near lakes and cool river valleys—so the cherries are plump and extremely sweet. Those areas are Hood River in Oregon, Lake Wenatchee and Lake Chelan in Washington, and Okanagan Lake in British Columbia.
What’s a fun fact about a fruit that most people don’t know?
In order to turn orange, citrus fruit needs the cold. When temperatures are too warm at night, oranges, HoneyBells, and other fruit will stay green—even though they’re perfectly sweet and delicious. They just don’t take on that beautiful orange hue.