West coast bell pepper growers are transitioning from Mexico to California. Baloian Farms is wrapping up their season in Nogales and moving to Coachella. “Harvest volumes in Coachella are picking up steadily with impressive retail grade and food service quality and sizing,” said Sierra Lopes, marketing specialist for Baloian Farms. It’s discouraging that prices are lower than last year, but Lopes says the market has thankfully been showing signs of improvement past the first quarter, a trend that she feels will continue to do so as they transition to the California season. The highest demand for bell peppers is in the western region.
Challenge for growers
Peppers can present a challenge for growers since they’re so sensitive to weather and growing conditions. “Some of the main challenges we face in California are the drought and ironically in the past few months, heavy rain,” said Lopes. “We’re always test trialing new varieties and experimenting with techniques that can help us use our resources more efficiently.”
Expansion of organic program
2017 happens to be the 100th Anniversary of the Baloian family’s involvement in the produce industry. Among several exciting plans this year, the most relevant is the expansion of their organic program. “We just began harvest on organic green beans in Coachella which will be followed by organic green peppers and organic soft squash as we continue our California season,” said Lopes. “In addition, we’re growing our Food Safety and Sales teams with young professionals who are passionate about agriculture and the produce industry.”