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Stemilt again offering 100 % organic peaches and nectarines

Stemilt Growers Inc., headquartered in Wenatchee, WA, will again offer 100 percent organic peach and nectarine crops in 2011. “We feel like we’re going to have a good crop,” said Director of Marketing Roger Pepperl. “The peaches and nectarines set well.”

The transition to organic peaches and nectarines began seven years ago, and this is Stemilt’s fourth year farming organic product for the marketplace. The trees have reached a point in their maturity that enhances the overall flavor profile. “We continue to drive our program on flavor,” he stated. “We will have a good packout.” The harvest will begin in mid-July and continue into early September.

In addition to its yellow-fleshed peaches, “We will also have a good supply of white peaches,” he said. “It’s a real sweet piece of fruit.” White peaches are especially popular in export markets because of their low acid content. “We will have a lot of sizes that are export friendly,” Mr. Pepperl added. White nectarines also will be available.

Product is marketed under the “Artisan Organic” label. Secondary display bins designed by Stemilt continue to increase product sales. Mr. Pepperl said that the bins are “grower-centric” in nature, informing consumers about the rich farming history of the company and its growers. A new paper tote bag also will be introduced this year to showcase the company’s organic product. “Last year we noticed an escalation in our fruit sales,” Mr. Pepperl stated. “Demand is on a positive swing.” The quarter-pack bag will hold approximately three pounds of organic fruit.

Cold weather in Washington will affect Stemilt’s apricot volume this year. “The cold blast in February really hurt the apricots,” Mr. Pepperl stated. “We will have one of the smaller crops in Washington.”

Although overall apricot volume will be down, Mr. Pepper said that fruit sizing will be large. The Robata is an early variety that will be harvested from June 27 through July 14. Other varieties will follow.