(April 5) Hailstorms and an early frost were expected to cut volumes of some early California nectarine, plum and apricot varieties, but shippers in early April weren’t ready to throw in the towel.

In fact, overall production won’t be downgraded much, shippers said, and rains during the bloom period in the Central Valley could ensure that some varieties are available over longer periods of time and smooth out volume spikes throughout the season.

Harvest is expected to begin 10 to 15 days later, however, putting the earliest nectarine and peach harvests into late April or early May, and plums about a week later than that.

“There’s enough of a (bloom) set that we will have an adequate crop,” said Dale Janzen, director of industry relations for the California Tree Fruit Agreement, Reedley. “The bloom has been spread out over such a long period of time.”

Official estimates are expected from the organization on April 27, Janzen said, but the crop will likely come in at 51 million to 55 million boxes of peaches, nectarines and plums. The industry shipped 51 million boxes of stone fruit last year.

On April 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported two-layer cartons of Chilean yellow-flesh nectarines arriving at Los Angeles were $14 for 40-44s, $12 for 48-50s and 54s, $10-12 for 60s. Two-layer cartons of Chilean peaches arriving at Philadelphia were $8-10 for 30-48s, $8 for 50s and $6-8 for 60s.

A hailstorm hit the eastern Central Valley on April 4, said Doug Sankey, sales manager at SunWest Fruit Co., Parlier, Calif. That happened as heavy rains throughout the area dumped upwards of three inches in as many days on some areas in the valley.

Weather forecasters predicted the rainy period to continue off and on through the week of April 10.

“There was no significant damage, but there will be some here and there,” Sankey said about the hailstorm.

May glow and early glow nectarines and red butte plums suffered a setback from a February frost, Janzen said, but peaches seem to be unharmed. Growers will begin to thin the trees the week of April 10, he said.

Jack Lagier, salesman at Crown Jewels Marketing and Distribution LLC, Fresno, said the rains limited strawberry supplies out of Oxnard the week of April 3, but it was too early to predict the effect on the overall stone fruit crop in the Central Valley.

“The fruit that’s in bloom right now, anybody with flowers on the tree will have problems,” Lagier said April 4. “If it’s not warm, that slows the production down, as well as the budding and the blooming.”