By TIM HEARDEN
SACRAMENTO -- Artichoke season in California is at its peak, and growers are reporting a good crop.
The Golden State grows the entire domestic supply of the thorny thistle, with most of it coming from Monterey County, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.
However, the green vegetable is grown as far north as the Redding area, where the Churn Creek Meadow Organic Farm planted them last year and enjoyed their first harvest last fall.
"They do really well up here," said Mary Ocasion, the farm's co-owner. "This spring we've been getting a lot of artichoke."
April and May represent the peak of the Golden State's artichoke season, the CFBF reports. One of the oldest known foods, artichokes from California are enjoyed in every corner of the globe, boasts the website for Ocean Mist Farms in Castroville.
The farm's direct-marketing campaign has more than 38,000 customers and 10,000 Facebook fans, and it has been offering specials on its artichokes for the past month. The company also worked with several retailers on promotions and display contests throughout April, according to a news release.
As artichokes are abundant in supermarkets right now, California's rich variety of summer vegetables is developing apace, reports the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service office here.
According to the agency's most recent crop progress report:
* Warm weather in Tulare County continues to benefit tomatoes, squash and other summer vegetable growth, while processing tomatoes in Fresno County continue to grow. In Stanislaus County, tomato beds have been readied for late transplant as transplanted tomatoes are growing well.
* Bell peppers were being cultivated, irrigated and fertilized last week as garlic and onions had taken root. Carrots are up to stand.
* In San Joaquin County, the asparagus harvest is continuing as yields look to be average for the year.
USDA NASS California Crop Weather: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/State_Crop_Progress_and_Condition/current/current_ca.rtf
California Farm Bureau Federation: http://www.cfbf.com/
Ocean Mist Farms: http://www.oceanmist.com/
Churn Creek Meadow Organic Farm: http://ccmof.com/