Starting in November, Live Oak Farms of Le Grand, CA began importing product from its farming operations in Mexico to help complete a 52-week cycle of availability on green and red bell peppers, according to a news release.
“The message has been loud and clear from both our retail and foodservice customers, we need you to be in the game year-round,” Damon Barkdull, vice president pepper sales for the fourth-generation grower-packer-shipper, said in the release. “We’re excited to begin this next chapter in Live Oak’s history.”
Historically, Live Oak has focused on its crops close to Le Grand in the San Joaquin Valley, from July through October. Those crops included mature green tomatoes — round and Roma — along with chili peppers and green, red and yellow bell peppers. With Live Oak’s hire of Pete Aiello, vice president pepper programs, came the addition of programs in Coachella and Bakersfield to help extend that California window.
With its program in Sinaloa, Mexico, Live Oak says it now has bell pepper coverage 52 weeks a year. Live Oak is expecting green bells to begin crossing in late November and red bell peppers as early as the second week of December into Nogales, AZ.
In addition to bringing Mexico peppers to its customers, Live Oak says it plans to expand its portfolio of product in both conventional and organic vegetables, including but not limited to Italian squash, yellow squash, cucumbers and an expanded array of chili peppers.
Live Oak expects the Mexico pepper program to carry it into May for a smooth transition into its California crop.