(March 8) Retailers have been hobbled by a lack of Chilean stone fruit, but as volumes wind down in late March and April, shippers said they’ll have one last shot at promoting peaches and plums.

Nectarines, however, will be trickling in.

Cold, rainy weather and at least one severe frost wiped out the apricot season in December and January and cut volumes of other stone fruit this winter.

Jerry Smirniotis, East Coast vice president and stone fruit category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, said ASOEX, the Santiago-based Chilean Exporters’ Association reported in early March the season’s nectarine volumes were down 38% and plums were off 25% on the East Coast and 32% on the West Coast. Peaches were down 16% on the East Coast and 32% on the West Coast.

“We’re telling our guys to get out there and push peaches for weeks 12 and 13, the weeks of March 20 and 27,” Smirniotis said. “That will be the last promotable numbers for peaches. Nectarines, we’ll have some, but they will not be promotable.”

On March 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported two-layer cartons of yellow-flesh nectarines arriving at Los Angeles were $16 for 40-44s and $14 for 48s and 50-54s. Twenty-pound loose containers, size 60, were $12.

At Philadelphia, two-layer trays of autumn lady, royal red and sweet september peaches were $8-10 for 30s, 40s and 48s, $8 for 50s and $6-8 for 60s. Two-layer cartons of larry anne plums at Philadelphia were $10-14 for 30s, $12 fro 40s, $10-12 for 48s, $8-10 for 50s and $8 for 60s.

The late-season sweet september peaches will be available through March, and Oppenheimer will have the black angelino plums through April, with 185,000 trays still on hand the second week of March, Smirniotis said. LifeSpan modified-atmosphere liners can extend the shelf life of stone fruit by eight to 10 days, he said.

“We know who the late-season growers are, and we’ve asked them to put (the fruit) in the LifeSpan bags and to load the containers at their cold storage so we don’t break temperatures,” Smirniotis said. “It’s important we maintain temperatures at the port.”