The traditional May-to-Labor Day California stone fruit season is history.

California stone fruit should see fall bounty

Don Schrack
Staff Writer

New late season varieties have stretched the deal, and a cool, wet spring this year will mean promotable supplies could be available into November.

“We’re still three weeks behind,” said Dan Spain, vice president of sales and marketing for Kingsburg Orchards, Kingsburg, Calif. “We’ll continue to have plenty of great eating fruit well into October.”

The company will continue to ship white-flesh and yellow-flesh peaches and nectarines, he said. Among the varieties with large volumes are the arctic mist nectarines and the snow magic and full moon peaches.

Harvesting of fall varieties of pluots at Kingsburg Orchards also was expected to continue into October. The varieties include autumn reds, autumn beauts and autumn honeys, Spain said.

Unique to the company are Peach-a-rines, a peach/nectarine hybrid. Autumn jewel, the last of the 12 proprietary Peach-a-rine varieties developed by Kingsburg Orchards, will be available through October, Spain said.

Throughout the industry, the average harvest start is about two weeks later than the 2009 deal, said Dale Janzen, director of industry relations for the Reedley-based California Tree Fruit Agreement.

“Retailers can anticipate good supplies of plums and nectarines through most of October, and peaches will probably be shipping into November,” Janzen said.

“More than half the angelino plums are still in the orchards.”

Despite later than usual harvest starts, plum volume is running well ahead of last year. The plum packout was approaching 9.5 million cartons as of Sept. 11, according to CTFA, more than 800,000 cartons year-to-date ahead of 2009.

At 18.4 million cartons, peaches were 300,000 behind the Sept. 11 packout of last year. But if the agreement’s forecast is correct, there are still about 2.5 million cartons yet to be packed and shipped.

“We’ll be close to that 21.9 million carton estimate but probably just a little shy of that figure,” Janzen said.

Nectarines will finish higher than the estimate of 16.4 million cartons. As of Sept. 11, 16.5 million cartons had been packed, 400,000 cartons above the 2009 pace.

“The California stone fruit season is definitely not over,” said Mike Reimer, vice president of marketing for Brandt Farms Inc., Reedley. “We’ll have nectarines and limited supplies of peaches into October.”

The fall nectarine varieties from Brandt Farms include august reds, september brites and september reds, he said, while summer flames and september sons are the primary peach varieties.

For plums, Brandt Farms will be shipping black cats and angelinos through October, followed by october gems, john ws and limited supplies of flavor falls, Reimer said.

At Reedley-based Family Tree Farms Inc., harvesting of white flesh september blaze peaches will continue through September, said Dovey Plain, marketing administrator.

“We’ll have good volume of the peaches into October,” she said, “And given the late start, we’re really in the thick of the fall harvest.”

Harvesting of the company’s pluots will likely continue well into October with flavor falls and black cats, a variety Family Tree Farms markets as King Kong.

“We’ll have great volumes of the King Kongs,” Plain said. “They have a great fall flavor profile — a bit of apple-like crispness — and great shelf life.”

The peach season could stretch into November at Scattaglia Growers & Shippers LLC, Traver, Calif., said Dave Parker, director of marketing.

“We’re definitely the latest stone fruit grower to harvest in the U.S.,” he said.

The reason is the high desert location of the company’s fall crops. The orchards are on the slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains, at 3,000 feet above sea level and up.

“The fruit is on the trees longer,” Parker said. “And the hot days and cool nights combine to deliver really intense flavor.”

Harvesting of the yellow-flesh ryan’s son and august lady peach varieties should continue at least until Oct. 15, he said, with the picking of autumn brites and september reds, a pair of yellow-flesh nectarines, continuing at least until Oct. 10.

“We’re very precise and very deliberate about our rapid cooling process and storage temperatures,” Parker said. “Those efforts translate to very good shelf life.”

E-mail dschrack@thepacker.com

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