(May 29, 6:08 p.m.) Supplies of high-quality summer produce favorites should be abundant this Fourth of July.

And while the economic downturn could put a dent in demand for some commodities, most grower-shippers expect strong pull for the holiday.

Heading into summer, Sunny-Cal Fruit Sales Inc., Reedley, Calif., is enjoying strong demand for peaches, nectarines and plums, and Chris Symank, sales director, is hopeful that will continue into the holiday.

“Demand’s extremely good, probably the best in several years,” he said.

With gas prices high and the economy slumping, more people are eating at home, which is helping stone fruit sales, Symank surmised.

He said there should be promotable supplies of high-quality peaches, nectarines and plums for the holiday.

“The quality looks extremely good,” he said May 28. “There was some rain damage last weekend, but it should be minimal.”

Rains May 24-25 hit cherries and strawberries harder than stone fruit, which could give the category an extra boost for Fourth of July pull, Symank.

On May 28, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $22.05 for two-layer tray packs of yellow-flesh peaches 48-50 from California, comparable to last year at the same time.

The May rains shouldn’t affect holiday strawberry supplies for California Giant Inc., Watsonville, said Cindy Jewell, marketing director.

The company expects excellent quality and ample promotable supplies for the Fourth, with strong demand thanks to Cal Giant’s Wimbledon sweepstakes promotion this summer, which so far has been a hit, Jewell said. The grand prize is a trip to Wimbledon 2009.

“We’re getting about 3,000 to 4,000 entries per day,” she said.

On May 28, the USDA reported prices of $11.90-12.90 for flats of 12 one-pint baskets of medium and large strawberries from California, comparable to last year at the same time.

Once soggy South Florida cleared out of the deal, watermelon quality has improved dramatically, said Brent Jackson, owner of Jackson Farming Co., Autryville, N.C. The company expects to have ample supplies for its customers for Fourth of July, he said.

“The quality has been really excellent out of central and northern Florida,” he said.

The economic downturn may weaken demand around the holiday, Jackson said, but movement has been decent so far this year.

On May 28, the USDA reported prices of $15-16 per cwt. of 24-inch bins of red-flesh seedless watermelons from Florida, down from $22-23 last year at the same time.

Sweet corn volumes targeted for Independence Day are expected to be down this year for Mendota, Calif.-based Stamoules Produce Co., said Demetri Karabinis, salesman.

“From what we hear, we’ll be down a good amount going through the holiday,” he said. “There will still be promotions, but there will be a lot less for us.”

The company has cut back on sweet corn acreage in an effort to grow more profitable crops, Karabinis said.

Karabinis expected good quality on corn shipping for the holiday.

On May 28, the USDA reported prices of $10.95-11.95 for cartons of four dozen white and yellow sweet corn from California, up from $9.95-10.95 last year at the same time.

Strong demand predicted for July 4th holiday
Grower-shippers say the upcoming July 4th holiday should be marked by excellent quality and promotable supplies for commodities such as tree fruit, strawberries and watermelon.