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California white-flesh peach and nectarine season running late

As with most crops in California’s San Joaquin Valley this year, white-flesh peaches and nectarines are running later than normal due to unusually cool spring weather.

There are no official estimates on start dates for the industry and no official estimates on crop size, either by variety or in the aggregate, this year, due to the discontinuation of marketing orders for peaches and nectarines in California.

One year ago, the California Tree Fruit Agreement, at its April 29 Spring Committee/Board Meetings, estimated slightly larger crops for Summerwhite peaches and nectarines than the prior year. The estimate for Summerwhite nectarines was just over four million boxes, up from about 3.8 million last year. The estimate for Summerwhite peaches was nearly 5.6 million boxes, up from 4.9 million last year.

There have been some pullouts since, and some re-plantings, and growers generally have said they expect normal production this year.

“Our production is about the same as last year,” said Maurice Cameron, managing partner in the Flavor Tree Fruit Co. LLC in Hanford, CA, May 6. “Timing is going to be later for us this year.” It appeared that “we are probably about five to seven days behind last year, and last year was late,” he said. But “things can change” if the weather warms and accelerates the crop.

The company had just begun picking its first white-flesh variety but was going strong on the cherry harvest. Picking was underway on a cherry orchard in Hanford just outside the packinghouse, and it was just six days behind Arvin, CA, an early district at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, and just three days later than normal for that block, so “it may turn around and we may end up being earlier than last year,” he said.

“We just started Snow Angel white peaches, and that will probably go for another week or so,” said Dovey Plain, marketing administrator for Family Tree Farms Marketing LLC in Reedley, CA, May 6.

In general the white-flesh peach and nectarine crops appeared to be “later than normal and even later than last year,” she said. “But we are finding that sugars are good and colors are good. Sizes are a challenged, at least on the early stuff, but we are hoping that will straighten out by mid-season.”