While New Jersey peaches were subjected to weather-related challenges early in the season, the crop has come on strong.
"It has been a rocky road this spring with the very early bloom and the temperatures near freezing, but we have come through with a very good crop," Santo John Maccherone, chair of the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council, said in a press release. "I had white-fleshed nectarines blooming in early March, but surprisingly I looked at those blocks when we started thinning and they were heavy with fruit."
Mr. Maccherone, who owns Circle M Farms with his son, John, in Mullica Hill and Salem, NJ, has a full crop on his white- and yellow-fleshed peaches, nectarines and oriental plums. "We braved some nights near or just below freezing when our trees were in bloom and various stages of early growth,” he said.
"I have been working with peach growers for over 30 years in southern New Jersey and have never seen peaches bloom this early,” Jerry Frecon, agricultural agent with Rutgers Cooperative Extension in Gloucester County, said in the press release. “We were in full bloom on March 23, 2012. Our crop looks pretty good, and except for a few low orchard spots most growers are thinning to reduce crop load and increase fruit size."
Mr. Frecon emphasized that while acreage has declined slightly in New Jersey to about 5,500 acres, production should be between 60 million pounds and 70 million pounds. "We lost some trees due to the wet weather we had late last summer — root rot, wind and water saturated soils,” he said. "So [we] have some nice new plantings to replace this acreage, most in Salem and Cumberland Counties. While there are over 100 peach growers across the state, there are only about 20 that grow and pack peaches for the wholesale market. We expect a near-full crop from most of these wholesale growers.”
Ed Gaventa, a grower in Logan Township, NJ, completed thinning his peach and nectarine acreage. "We are picking peaches in mid-June," he said. "Everything has been early this year." Mr. Gaventa owns A.L. Gaventa & Sons with his cousin Roy. The Gaventas been picking strawberries for a month and sweet corn harvest should start in mid-June, many crops earlier than normal. Mr. Gaventa is also treasurer of the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council, an organization of growers and allied industries dedicated to the orderly marketing and promotion of New Jersey peaches.
For further information, contact the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council information office, 856-307-6450 ext.1; ; or visit its website, www.jerseypeaches.com, and find New Jersey peaches on facebook.