Plums, pluots take top billing in California’s fall stone fruit parade - The Packer

Plums, pluots take top billing in California’s fall stone fruit parade

08/19/2011 01:05:00 PM
Don Schrack

Don SchrackFlavorfalls, a pluot variety, is beginning to show good color Aug 11, although harvesting of the fruit will not begin until September. Numerous Central California grower-shippers will have the fruit available into October, they said. KINGSBURG, Calif. — By crop size, plums are the runt of the California stone fruit seasonal litter, taking a back seat to the larger nectarines and peaches that dominate the summer harvest.

Come fall, however, plums — and their close relatives, pluots — strut their stuff. While summer prices have been on the soft side, grower-shippers expect f.o.b.s to strengthen in the fall, they said.

“We’ll start our angelino plums right about Labor Day,” said Dave Stone, owner of Valhalla Sales & Marketing.

Valhalla expects to pack and ship more than 100,000 cartons of angelinos into early November, he said.

Reedley-based Brandt Farms Inc. will offer red and black plums for the fall season, said Mike Reimer, sales director.

“We’ll be shipping red plums easily through September, and we’ll have black plums until Veterans Day,” he said.

The headliner plum for HMC Group Marketing Inc., will be the company’s proprietary variety, holiday, a red plum with gold flesh, said Steve Kenfield, vice president of sales and marketing.

“We’ve been developing the holiday orchard for several years, but the trees are now really hitting their stride,” he said.

“The holidays have high brix with a tangy, sweet flavor, and they’re very juicy.”

HMC Group will have a full crop of holidays this fall and will support the plums with strong marketing plans, Kenfield said.

Dinuba-based Wes Pak Sales Inc. “will have good supplies of angelinos and flavorfalls well into September,” said Jim Stewart, president.

“Our biggest obstacle has been getting retail to believe that there’s anything good, just picked in the fall,” said Dan Spain, vice president of sales and marketing for Kingsburg Orchards.

“More and more of them are now realizing that there are very good plums and pluots well into October and even into November.”

Kingsburg Orchards was scheduled to begin picking three varieties of black plums in mid- to late August and three varieties of red plums in September, he said. Picking of yet another red plum, autumn red, is scheduled to begin Nov. 9.

Five of the company’s proprietary pluot varieties, moonlight mist, ruby punch, crimson dandy, red dapple and raspberry sweet, had harvest starts scheduled for late August and early September, Spain said. Picking of still another proprietary variety, sierra honey, is slated to begin Oct. 1.

Sunwest Fruit Co. Inc., Parlier, is scheduled to begin harvesting angelinos by Sept. 1, said Doug Sankey, vice president of marketing.

Also available through September, he said, will be flavorfalls and September yummys.

“We’ll have a strong fall deal of angelino plums through September and into October,” said Dave Parker, marketing director for Scattaglia Growers & Shippers LLC, Traver.

At Visalia-based Phillips Farms Marketing, angelinos and flavorfalls will be available as late as early November, said owner Doug Phillips.

“We’ll also have limited supplies of some young, new plum varieties,” he said.

The 2011 season is in the home stretch for most peach and nectarine grower-shippers, but some late season varieties will be available into November.

For Brandt Farms, the focus is on its honey white, a proprietary white-flesh peach variety.

“The crop will start coming off the trees about mid-September and will be available for at least a couple of weeks,” Reimer said.

“Scattaglia Growers & Shippers will be strong in yellow peaches and yellow nectarines at least into October,” Parker said.

Harvesting of late season nectarines was scheduled to start in late August at Wes Pak Sales, Stewart said, and the fruit will be available well into September.

Kingsburg Orchards will be picking yellow-flesh and white-flesh peaches and nectarines, including several of the company’s proprietary varieties, into September, Spain said.

Picking of snow magic, one of the proprietary white-flesh peach varieties, was scheduled to begin Aug. 30, he said. Shipping of the yellow-flesh orange honey heirloom, the company’s last nectarine of the season, is scheduled to begin the first week in September.

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