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2014 Jersey Fresh peach season shares in long, historic tradition

Since the 1600s generations of New Jersey family farmers have been growing peaches, making Jersey Fresh peaches the original locally grown fruit long before “carbon footprints” or “food miles.” For hundreds of years the New Jersey tradition for peach growing excellence has continued and the best peaches then are still the best peaches now. hi-res-GalLaNew Jersey can make that claim because our peaches are grown next door to our markets and have a definitive advantage in that Jersey Fresh peaches can be picked closer to full tree ripeness, providing a high sugar-acid ratio making for better quality and taste. With 45 million customers within 250 miles of New Jersey’s peach orchards, it is the perfect combination of plentiful consumer demand being met with a mouthwatering supply of sweet summer fruit.

New Jersey peach growers continue to offer the finest peaches anywhere. Building on centuries of experience New Jersey peach farmers continue to innovate with newer varieties, exciting packaging possibilities, high standards for food safety and traceability and solid marketing support.

This past winter was very cold, allowing for more than an ample number of chill hours to provide the trees with a good rest. The cold did some very minor damage to some trees but not enough to significantly affect this year’s production volume. The winter’s heavy snows did however provide plenty of moisture for the trees.

Spring got off to a good start with continued good moisture and no frost damage. Bud set this year was excellent and the well-rested trees enjoyed perfect timing with a mid- to late April bloom. Bloom thinning followed the normal schedule leading to a perfect June drop, complemented with some hand-thinning to ensure larger-size fruit.

The New Jersey peach crop is expected right on time and was expected to start lightly around the week of July 7. Fruit size is looking good this year and our growers are expecting a nice amount of larger fruit. Commercial volume can be expected to begin around July 16 or July 17. New Jersey’s peach growers and packers are looking forward to normal seasonal volumes perhaps off by no more than 5-10 percent due to the limited cold damage. The first variety will be the Sentry and the usual varietal progressions are expected to follow the timing of a normal year. In mid-season, the crop will move into the GaLa and Flavorcrest varieties and should finish strong with the Loring and Red Haven varieties followed by the John Boy season. Then New Jersey will move into the Crest Haven variety season, which also includes the Gloria variety of peach. Then it’s Jersey Queen season, which includes the Fayette varieties. The Encore and Laurol varieties will wrap up the season sometime in mid- to late September, when the last of New Jersey’s peaches should be picked, packed and shipped.

White peaches are expected to begin shipping around the end of July and continue through mid-September. In comparison to last year there may be a slightly smaller volume of white peaches this year. But peak volumes can be expected around the end of July into early August. The white peach season will start with the White Lady variety, followed by exceptional Klondike variety, which will then transition through the following varieties: Sugar Giant, Lady Nancy and the Snow Giant variety, ending the white peach season sometime in mid-September.

Nectarines are expected in normal volumes about the same as last year. New Jersey should begin shipping nectarines in late July, with a peak in the heaviest volume in August taper off in September. The largest nectarine variety will again be the Fantasia variety.

The standard pack for New Jersey peaches continues to be the half-bushel box volume-filled pack, averaging 25 pounds, depending on fruit size. New Jersey’s peach growers can also offer a full range of packing choices to meet any retailer request or market need. Tray packs are available for ready-to-eat peaches or larger fruit, which are both expected to move well this year. Special six-pound club box packs will also be available as will peaches in tote bags and clear clamshell packs.

For more than 60 years, the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council has worked to promote the state’s peach crop. In support of the 2014 season, the council will be continuing its consumer and industry print advertising and online marketing through its newly improved website and through buyer and consumer videos. The buyer video will feature the quality attributes and advantages of purchasing Jersey Fresh peaches. A separate video provides handling and merchandising information for retailers.

Again this year, the council will be providing periodic press releases to keep the industry and consumers up to date with the latest information about the timing, volume and quality of the peach crop and also to provide announcements for upcoming peach promotional and marketing events. The council will have banners, informational consumer brochures and recipe booklets available. The council’s 2014 New Jersey Peach Buyers Guide, listing all grower members and their packinghouses, wholesalers and shippers, is now available.

Peach point-of-sale advertising is available from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Jersey Fresh peach price cards, consumer peach storage and nutritional information take-one packs and a large, brightly colored two-foot-by-three-foot “Born to be Keen, Jersey Fresh Peaches” poster are all available free.

For a copy of the 2014 New Jersey Peach Buyers Guide, peach price cards, peach take-ones or peach posters, contact Logan Brown at the New Jersey Department of Agriculture at 609/292-8856 or via email at logan.brown@ag.state.nj.us  

For more information about peach promotion activities, check out the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council website at www.jerseypeaches.com or contact Pegi Adam at 973/744-6090.

Logan Brown is the economic development representative for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.