D’Amore said buyers should expect this season’s smaller volumes to produce firmer prices than last year.
In late April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported flats of 12 6-ounce cups with lids large from south Georgia selling for $20.50-24.50, flats of 12 6-ounce cups with lids medium-large from central and north Florida selling for $20-22.50, and flats of 12 4.4-ounce cups with lids medium selling for $18-19.
Last year in late April, the USDA reported flats of 12 6-ounce cups with lids medium-large from central Florida selling for $26-26.85 while flats of 12 4.4-ounce cups with lids medium-large sold for $20-22.85.
Because of the mild winter growing season, Georgia peach growers expect to begin production in early May, perhaps a week before the deal’s normal May 13-15 start.
Will McGehee, salesman with Genuine Georgia Group and Pearson Farm, Fort Valley, Ga., said he expects the state to enter volume in mid-May, also about seven days early.
The mild temperatures, he said, pose challenges for fruit requiring a certain number of chill hours.
“Our early and midseason varieties look really nice as they received plenty of cold and chill,” he said in mid-April.
“Where we’re seeing any issues is on some of the later varieties, with a little fruit set on the trees. It’s not catastrophic, but it has clipped back a certain percentage of the late crop, which doesn’t have enough chill hours.”
McGehee said fruit quality was “gorgeous” and said the fruit possesses strong bud sets.
Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley, plans to start its harvesting May 14, a couple of days sooner than normal.
Duke Lane III, vice president of sales, said the season looks promising.
“We have seen enough crops so we’re comfortable with what it looks like now,” he said in mid-April.
“All the way through it looks good. There may be a variety or two holding them back, but even the ones with question marks are starting to improve,” he said.
“It should be a good year for Georgia peaches.”
Lane said the state should pack 2.5 million cartons this season, down from last year’s 2.9 million cartons.
He said last year was a bumper crop season.
Lane expects to pack 800,000 25-pound half-bushel cartons, similar to last year’s volume.
Georgia peach production normally runs through mid-August.
South Carolina normally begins harvesting in late May and harvests through early September. California typically begins by mid- to late May and produces through September.