(July 9) With the Yakima Valley already going strong in apricot production, harvest in Washington’s northern district near Wenatchee began the second week of July, and shippers expect steady volumes of all Washington stone fruit this summer.

“Our crop for summer fruit looks great,” said B.J. Thurlby, president of the Washington State Fruit Commission, Yakima. “We’ve had probably the best spring weather I’ve seen here in 10 years.”

Thurlby said the stone fruit crops — apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums — are running a few days ahead of schedule. Apricots started the third week of June near Yakima, and some shippers in the northern Wenatchee districts were packing the fruit by July 7.

Peach and nectarine harvests follow with minor volumes in late July, but significant volumes aren’t available until mid-August. Early plums will be available in August, with late-season prune varieties available into October.

“Each one of our apricot, peach and nectarine crops is a 10-day deal, but we have different varieties to string us through August and later,” said Rollie Harmon, general manager of Homeland Fruit Co., Bridgeport. “We have autumn sweet prunes that don’t pick until Sept. 20.”

“We’re focussing our peak promotion period around the mid-August time period,” Thurlby said, “all the way into October with peaches and nectarines.”

Thurlby said the state’s apricot harvest should be around 3,500 tons, compared to 3,800 tons last season.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on July 8 reported prices were lower for size 60-80s from Yakima Valley and Wenatchee, and two-layer cartons of tray-packed fruit was $20.50-22.50 for 60-64s and $18-18.50 for 70-72s. The 24-pound carton loose-packed 1 7/8-inch minimum were $16.50-18.50, and 1 5/8-inch minimum cartons were $10.50-12.50.

The Washington Agricultural Statistics Service, Olympia, estimates peach volumes of 13,500 tons this summer, compared to almost 13,700 last season.

Cartons of two-layer tray-packed yellow flesh varieties in California’s Central and southern San Joaquin Valley districts were $9 for 40-42s on July 8, and 25-pound loose-packed cartons were $6 for 60-64s, according to the USDA.