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Great weather sets up Prime Time for spring deals

Speaking under sunny skies with temperatures hovering in the low 80s on April 13, Mike Way of Prime Time International in Coachella, CA, said the “perfect conditions” should give the company a great supply of its spring crops over the next couple of months.

“We’ve had a very warm winter with no cold spells in Coachella,” he said. “We had three or four days earlier in the week with some hot weather, but the forecast for the next two weeks is 80-90 degrees. That should give us good supplies and promotable volume through May.”

Mike-Way-and-Jeff-TaylorMike Way and Jeff Taylor, managing partners at Prime Time International.Way, who is a co-managing member of the operation, was speaking of several items in the company’s spring lineup. Prime Time is noted for its peppers and that was the first commodity of which he spoke: “We just broke our green pepper crop and will be in full production within a week.”

The company has been sourcing its peppers from Mexico, but the transition to California began with the opening of the green Bell pepper fields. Way expects the green pepper harvest to last in the Coachella Valley through Memorial Day. Red and yellow peppers will begin their harvest from that area around May 14 and continue until about the Fourth of July. All the peppers will transition to Bakersfield first and then the California coastal growing region in Ventura County. The one exception is the mini-pepper deal. Prime Time is not producing that increasingly popular crop in Coachella this year. Instead it will transition to another Mexican production area around May 15 until July. From there, mini-peppers will follow the lead of their big brothers and be harvested in Bakersfield for about six weeks before moving on to the Oxnard Plains for a more extended growing season.

Way said California labor costs are very high compared to Mexico and it is difficult to profitably produce the mini crop, which is highly labor intensive, in the desert temperatures of Coachella Valley. The heat shortens the season, reduces the yield and makes it difficult for a costly crop to pencil out. The other California production areas typically result in greater yields and thus a better return on a per-acre basis.

Another short season desert crop coming to fruition is the sweet corn production. Prime Time will be in and out of the deal over a six-week period. “We have about 700 acres, which will begin harvest on April 24 or 25 and last until June 5,” Way said, adding that the Cinco de Mayo and Memorial Day holidays are the focus of that production.

Another crop in the firm’s desert portfolio is its full-sized seedless watermelon output. “We will start on May 3 or 4 and go for about six weeks,” he said. “It’s a very big crop this year and we are very excited about it.”

Again the melons will be in good volume for those Memorial Day weekend picnics at which watermelons are a mainstay.