Markets should soften as warmer weather brings more normal volumes of California stone fruit, grower-shippers said.

Volumes of large peaches and other stone fruit were still very tight June 1, with demand exceeding supply, but by June 4-6, they were expected to start returning closer to normal, said Angie Eastham, West Coast sales manager for Pacific Trellis Fruit, Reedley, Calif.

As of May 29, about 132 million pounds of California peaches had been shipped, down from 357 million pounds last year at the same time, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In the week ending May 29, about 73 million pounds of peaches shipped, down from 156 million pounds during the same week in 2009.

Reedley-based Mountain View Fruit Sales Inc. expects volumes be back to normal by the middle of the week of May 31, said Dave Goforth, sales associate.

“From this point forward, we’ve been telling customers it’s business as usual,” Goforth said June 1. “We had a very good day yesterday (number of cartons packed), today is good and as of today we’re seeing a turning of the production.”

On June 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $21-26 for two-layer cartons of yellow-flesh peaches 48-50s from California, down from $19-20 last year at the same time.

Two-layer cartons of California yellow-flesh nectarines 54-56s were $21-24, up from $18 last year at the same time.

California stone fruit volumes have been two to eight days late this spring depending on the variety, Goforth said.

As volumes start to increase,prices should start to rise accordingly, Goforth said.

“We’ve been guiding our retail partners into promoting heavily the next seven to ten days,” he said.

Peach volumes should be normal this year, — Goforth said. Nectarines, though, should be lighter, as older varieties are replaced with new varieties that aren’t yet in full production.

Through June 1, sizing of California peaches, nectarines and plums had been, on average, about one size smaller than normal, Eastham said. Peaches and nectarines have been in the 54-56 range, down from 40-50 last year, she said. Plums have been peaking on 60s and 70s, down from 40s and 50s last year.

As of June 1, plum volumes were still very light for Mountain View, but by mid-June production should be significantly higher, Goforth said.