Demand strong early in California stone fruit deals

05/23/2013 03:33:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Grower-shippers reported strong demand for high-quality California stone fruit in the second half of May.

Reedley, Calif.-based Brandt Farms Inc. began shipping yellow peaches April 29, with white peaches, yellow nectarines and white nectarines following in mid-May, said Michael Reimer, vice president of sales.

Reimer reported good quality and size profiles early in the deal.

“The sugars are very high, the color is very high, the packouts are increased,” he said.

“Everything looks really good.”

Reimer reported a similar product mix for Brandt Farms, with peaches still the dominant stone fruit variety.

Reedley-based Family Tree Farms began shipping white and yellow peaches about May 1, said Dovey Plain, marketing coordinator.

By May, the growing weather had started to stabilize, Plain said.

“We haven’t had any hail or anything else severe, but it’s been up and down — super hot, then cold,” she said.

“It’s been a challenge, but I think we’re through that.”

After a gap on white nectarines in the last days of May, all stone fruit varieties should be shipping in peak volume for Family Tree in June, Plain said.

The company expects normal volumes on all of its stone fruit crops this year.

Plain reported normal sugar levels and overall quality as of May 21.

Family Tree’s production will once again lean on its bread-and-butter stone fruit category, white-flesh peaches and nectarines, Plain said.

Reedley, Calif.-based Mountain View Fruit Sales Inc. began packing the first yellow peach in its Summeripe conditioned program, the spring flame 21, on May 21, said Dave Goforth, salesman.

Goforth reports stellar growing weather, with full red color, high sugar levels and sizes peaking on 48s and 56s.

The only possible negative in what has been a strong start to the 2013 season is labor shortages, said Barry Bedwell, president of the Fresno-based California Grape & Tree Fruit League.

Some growers who had hoped to be doing cultural work in May instead have had to concentrate their workers on harvesting, Bedwell said.

Plain reported steady movement in the second half of May, and she expects the same heading into June.

“Some customers shy away from the early deal, but demand has been neck and neck with supply, and we anticipate that’s the way it’s going to go,” she said. “We have a lot pre-sold.”

Demand was excellent the week of May 20, Reimer said.

Goforth said delays in southern stone fruit crops are increasing demand for California fruit.


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