Supermarket Perimeter - April 2020 - 40

Produce

Tree fruits
BY CHRIS CRAWFORD

40 - APRIL 2020

SP_Apr20.indb 40

promotable volumes in early/mid-May through Memorial
Day if all goes well. Washington stone fruit, including
cherries, have yet to bloom."
Jerry Frecon, a retired Rutgers University professor
and horticultural consultant for the New Jersey Peach
Promotion Council (NJPPC), said the New Jersey peach
growing season is still young but the winter was great
with no low-temperature injury and abundant rainfall.
"We are always concerned though with mild winters,
when they may force our trees to de-harden or bloom
early," he said. "We have not seen any bud or bloom loss
yet. It looks like we're going to have an early flowering
with earlier maturity, so I suspect we will have good
volumes of fruit from mid-June into September. Most of
this fruit will be peaches and nectarines with a sprinkling
of plums."
Frecon said freestone peaches will start in mid-July.
He added that in addition to Mother Nature, there are
other issues that are beyond growers' control that may
affect pricing.
"Skilled labor is in short supply and with the increase
in the minimum wage, this will be put extra stress on
holding costs," he said. "There are always other costs
that increase cost of goods like fertilizer, pesticides,
equipment and regulations. The weather, particularly
wet weather, could be a detriment to the control of fruit
rotting diseases and costs."

Promotable product
Simonian of Simonian Fruit Co. said that this season, the
company is interested in promoting yellow peaches,
yellow nectarines, red plums and black plums.
"Yellow nectarines and yellow peaches sell the best in
two-layer tray packs," he said. "48/50s, which are a large
size, seem to be the preferred size. There is a little bit of
preference by region, where in some locations, yellow
peaches are better selling, then in other areas, yellow
nectarines sell better."
Cherries start for Stemilt in late April in California and
then transition to Washington in June, Shales said.
"We have the longest cherry season in the industry,
starting in late April and running until Labor Day most
years," she said. "Stemilt also grows organic apricots,
peaches and nectarines as part of our Artisan Organics
program. These stone fruit start in late July and run
through September. It's a great program to differentiate

STEMILT, ASSJA_SAV, VIRTUSTUDIO - STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Early signs are promising
for a California cherry
crop to start in late April.

A WARMER THAN USUAL WINTER will likely yield early
harvests, but tree fruit growers are still waiting to see
how the weather patterns hold.
Suppliers of peaches, plums, nectarines and cherries
break down their predictions for the season and recommend best practices for promoting tree fruit at retail.
David Stone, president and chief executive officer of
Valhalla Sales & Marketing Inc., Kingsburg, Calif., which
offers peaches, plums and nectarines, said the chilling hours in the area so far have been sufficient, with
enough dormancy in the trees for a good set.
"Typically, we get most excited about warm weather
in the spring because the eating quality of fruit will be
phenomenal right from the start, as the warm ground
will help produce the sugar in the fruit," he said.
Stone said he's also optimistic that the
fruit volumes will be the same as last year,
with spring thunderstorms spreading out
excellent bloom.
"I anticipate harvest earlier than last year
with the warmer ground and 80-degree
temps in February and March," he said, adding that a couple of cold nights won't be able
to cool the ground down now.
Fowler, Calif.-based Simonian Fruit Co.'s
trees have been blooming and look good so
far, said Jeff Simonian, president of sales and
marketing.
"Our biggest concern is the lack of rain we
received during the winter," he said. "We are having to
start irrigating our fields earlier than we would like."
However, right now, there aren't any issues to report
affecting the crop this upcoming season, Simonian said.
"Once the fruit starts to appear on the trees, we will
be concerned about hail and frost," he said. "Once the
fruit gets closer to maturity in May, we will be concerned
about pests and if the weather is too warm or not."
Brianna Shales, communications manager for
Stemilt Growers LLC, Wenatchee, Wash., said that at the
beginning of March, cherry blossom was underway in
California.
"California had a mild winter and warmer-than-normal, plus dry, February," she said. "It's still too early to
know much about the crop since we have not moved
into and then past full bloom. But early signs are promising for a California cherry crop to start in late April with
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Supermarket Perimeter - April 2020

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Supermarket Perimeter - April 2020 - 1
Supermarket Perimeter - April 2020 - 1
Supermarket Perimeter - April 2020 - 2
Supermarket Perimeter - April 2020 - 3
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