August 25, 2011 – Harvest starts

Life is peachy keen on the farm, but just a “bit” busy. As always, the time of year that I should send out the most newsletters is exactly the time of year I have the least time to send out any. While we had a few early peaches in early August, last week marked the official deluge of harvest. The slow trickle turned into a steady torrent and we struggled to keep up. It is a good problem to have in this year where many people have few peaches. But, it does cause a bit of stress for the fruit grower as I watch peaches getting ripe, then riper, then riper still, and we are behind. We’ve kept adding crew members and I think we are finally starting to get back on top of things. Whew…

Newhavens are the peach for this weekend, just like last weekend. They are a nice flavored peach, sweet, with low acidity. They are a bit clingy on the pit, so they make you work for that perfect half, but otherwise slice nicely. We have been using them for everything from that after school snack to sliced on cereal, to peach salsa. We have our fruit dryer going full tilt with the over ripes that got away from us. We will be starting our freestone Rosa peaches next weekend and then it is freestones all the way after that. We are expecting to have peaches nearly to the end of September this year since the crop is running a bit late.

In a strange weather year, we have been surprised and pleased by a full crop on our Newhavens. The downside of that surprise is that the size of the fruit has been smaller than we would like. After the four nights of 25 degree weather during bloom, we were afraid to thin the trees until the fruit sized enough that we could easily see it. Then, one tree would be loaded and the next light in the bottom, but heavy on top. I tried to instruct my thinning crew accordingly, but it is always hard when every tree is different. We ended up with more fruit than we should have on the trees – it is hard to thin fruit onto the ground when you know there is the potential to be throwing away part of the crop that you really need!

Thinning is also a subtle art. We plan on 100-110 peaches per tree. With that number, early thinning, and good growing conditions we harvest nice, moderate sized fruit. This year we ended up with about 120-130 peaches per Newhaven tree. It is hard to believe that a difference of 10-15 peaches on a full size tree can change the size that much, but it is true. With those few extra peaches we probably lost about two sizes on all the fruit on those trees. Sometimes I think it is like a tree running a marathon. With a good pace, you feel like you can just keep going. But, push that pace just a bit more and you feel great, until all of a sudden you crash. That crash usually isn’t just a subtle slowdown, but a good, hard bonk. I think the tree does great until it gets slightly overloaded, and then all the systems just say, “I’m done” and the result is small fruit.

As a final note, mea culpa, we realized our Rising Star peaches were not nearly as flavorful this year as other years. Two years ago they were some of peoples favorite peaches, this year, not so much. We are glad that our current varieties taste much better. Why did the Rising Stars fall flat this year? The Nobel Peach Prize is out there for answering questions like that. But, if we need to do anything to makes things right, please let us know. We believe in great flavor and will take responsibility when it doesn’t quite hit the mark we set for ourselves.

Gala apples and pears will be coming on shortly. Thank you for your support and check our Facebook page for recipes, quick fruit updates and commentaries from various folks on the farm. www.facebook.com/pages/Hotchkiss-CO/Ela-Family-Farms/126422900712760?v=wall

Take care and enjoy the wonderful days of harvest and great food at the markets.

Steve Ela

Ela Family Farms

30753 L Rd

Hotchkiss, CO 81419

970 872 3488

info@elafamilyfarms.com

www.elafamilyfarms.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Hotchkiss-CO/Ela-Family-Farms/126422900712760?v=wall

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Ela Family Farms

2011 Market Schedule

WE EXPECT OUR EARLY PEACHES TO START ON THE WEEKEND OF JULY 30. DEPENDING ON THE CROP AND HOW THEY RIPEN, WE WILL MOST LIKELY HAVE LIMITED QUANTITIES AND WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO GET THEM TO ALL MARKETS. WE WILL TRY TO KEEP YOU POSTED AS WE KNOW MORE!

SATURDAY

Boulder Farmers Market

13 th St. , between Arapahoe & Canyon Blvd

8 a.m. – 2 p.m. , April – November 5

 

Golden Farmers Market

Next to Public Library on 10 th St .

8 a.m. – 1 p.m. , July 9 – October 1

 

Fort Collins (Larimer County Farmers Mkt.)

In the Larimer County Courthouse parking lot, 200 W. Oak

(Located between Howes and Mason Streets)

8 a.m. – noon , July 23 – October 15

 

SUNDAY

City Park Esplanade Farmers Market, Denver

Near 16 th & York in front of East High School, across from the Tattered Cover

9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ; late July 10 – October 30

 

Old South Pearl Street Farmers Mkt., Denver

South Pearl St. between Iowa and Florida

9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ; late July 10 – October 30

 

Stapleton Farmers Market, Denver

29 th and Quebec

9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ; late July 10 – October 8

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

October 1 – 2

Lakewood Cider Days

10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 

Lakewood Heritage Center (Wadsworth & Ohio)