Marc Marchini, sales coordinator for J. Marchini Farms in Le Grand, CA, said that the weather has been colder than normal this year, and it is taking a toll on just about every crop in the state.
“Tomatoes, such as our Marzano tomatoes, can go into a dormancy state if the weather stays too cold, but fortunately that hasn’t happened,” Mr. Marchini said. “But it will delay all crops, including tree fruit, row crops in the state, and our organic figs.”
J. Marchini Farms launched its “Marchini” Marzano tomatoes, a prized heirloom variety from Italy, in frozen form last year. This year the company is offering fresh-market Marzanos as well.
“Marzano tomatoes are the premier Italian tomatoes and are regarded as one of the most flavorful, sweet and delicious tomatoes in the world,” said Mr. Marchini.
“Gourmets describe them as a low acid variety, with a rich and luscious taste. They make a delicious sauce and are a wonderful addition to other dishes. We are using the opportunity to offer them in organic form to the fresh market this year.”
The Marzano tomatoes are grown on stakes “old-world style,” acording to the company, picked vine-ripe and shipped across the country. The fresh tomatoes will be available in August and September.
J. Marchini Farms’ Black Mission figs are forecast to start on June 20, the same date as last year.
“But the cold weather is altering our schedule this year,” said Mr. Marchini. “The first crop runs until July 10, meaning we’ll have only one month to start the second crop. We will be starting later in August this year, so the late crop won’t be the normal size this year. We will have organic figs in June, August, September and October.”
He added that the cold weather slows the plants down and pushes things together, making it a difficult year for growers.
Last year, J. Marchini Farms produced bi-colored sweet corn for the first time. Mr. Marchini said that the response from customers was outstanding.
“They really loved the quality of the corn,” he said. “We have doubled our acreage this year. This is a perfect summertime item. The run is in July and August, just in time for the summer holidays.”
The company is launching a line of organic hard squashes this year for the first time. Mr. Marchini said the trial run of Butternut, Acorn and other hard squashes stemmed from his mother, Stephanie’s, organic pumpkin patch.
“We harvest the pumpkins and deliver them to one location,” he explained. “Schools have field trips there and pick out pumpkins. It’s a nice way for people to come out and experience country life. There was some available space in the pumpkin patch, so we decided to try organic hard squashes. We look forward to this addition to our line.”
Mr. Marchini added that it is important to be good stewards of the land and that means rotating. Sometimes, he pointed out, a new organic product develops in the process of finding something to rotate seasonally.
He said that organics is an untouchable category, and that people who are dedicated to it will continue to be.
“Today, with prices leveling off, organics are becoming more of the norm,” Mr. Marchini said. “Some of our organic customers handle only high-end products, but conventional customers recognize the marketability. They create different markets, but both are committed to organics today.”