Article by: Hari Yellina
Strong supplies of the Hatch chile crop from this year are currently being produced in New Mexico. The crop this year is just stunning. Preston Mitchell of The Hatch Chile Store in Hatch, New Mexico, notes that the harvest was considerably delayed by five to six days in terms of maturity due to the cooler evenings. “We had a few small rains towards the end of June that set us back a few days,” he says. “However, the quality is simply stunning. Everything that survived the truly sweltering heat wave at the end of May and the beginning of June looks just stunning.
Despite the fact that the state’s total acreage of Hatch chiles has decreased over the past 15 years, Mitchell predicts that this year’s yield will increase. Over the past 15 years, we have also noticed a rise in yields per acre. Given that last year’s harvest was slightly lower owing to weather, in terms of tonnes, it will likely be similar to that of the previous two years, he predicts. The Hatch chile transplants that are currently being picked will be shred after harvest and then undergo a second growing to produce a very late-season pick, which typically concludes the growing season at the end of October or in early November.
While Mitchell observes that supplies are generally consistent, the peak of the season for quality often occurs in late August or early September. The scarring and tip burn are typically at their lowest around that time. “More than anything else, that is related to the weather. After the significant heat wave in June, the chile that is peeling at that time is often the ones with the blossom setting. They’ve therefore had a somewhat more pleasant experience than the chile that came off a little earlier,” he explains. “Demand on the wholesale side of the company appears to be particularly robust to move the crop. All of our clients, especially those in California, are looking forward to a prosperous year again.”
Many of our shop roasting activities over the past two years have been cancelled due to COVID limitations or fires. We’re really eager to host these roasting parties in person and resume social interactions, says Mitchell. Strangely, compared to the peak COVID years, demand is a little down on the retail side of the business. He explains that during COVID, business was booming and has since slightly levelled out. “We sell online and ship to to people’s doors,” he says. However, despite the pricing increase of between 10 and 20 percent from last season and depending on the pack type, there is still a significant general demand.
Fertilizer, for instance, has increased by twofold; all expenditures have increased, according to Mitchell, who also notes that truck prices have increased, though truck availability doesn’t appear to be a problem. Accessing labour has also been difficult, even though expenses have been a problem. Nevertheless, our growers have moved the labour of the harvest crew to the H-2A programme. Although the H-2A has been a boon for our company, we have simply been unable to find qualified candidates, he claims.