Late start expected for California peach season

04/15/2011 01:56:55 PM
Don Schrack

FRESNO, Calif. — For the second consecutive year, the elements are playing fraternity tricks on California’s stone fruit grower-shippers.

Rather than receiving the normal complement of warm spring weather, the California growing regions endured cooler temperatures and a series of storms that dumped 150% of normal rainfall. Despite the weather, decent volume and good to excellent quality can be expected, grower-shippers said.

“Everything is going to be pushed back about a week,” said Atomic Torosian, managing partner of Fresno-based Crown Jewels Marketing LLC. “It’s going to be a later start than we’d like to see, but it is what it is.”

For Crown Jewels, shipping of its first peaches, the white flesh snow angel variety, will likely begin during the first week in May, Torosian said. Unlike other shippers who are drawing early season fruit from orchards at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley and the relatively new Kettleman Hills growing region to the valley’s southwest, Crown Jewels is sourcing all of its stone fruit from the Greater Fresno area, he said.

A later start to the harvest also is anticipated at Giumarra Reedley, a division of Giumarra Bros. Fruit Co. Inc., Los Angeles.

“We’ll start with super rich and other yellow-flesh peach varieties toward the end of May,” said John Thiesen, division manager.

The weather-delayed start to picking will probably carry over to all stone fruits, he said.

“But if we get two weeks of 85-degree to 90-degree weather in May, it could move things forward pretty quickly,” Thiesen said.

The inclement weather made it difficult to predict volume, he said.

“It’s tough to tell what’s out there right now,” Thiesen said March 30. “The cold snap has me scratching my head a bit. I think we’ll be very similar to last year.”

Also starting with yellow-flesh varieties is Fowler Packing Co. Inc., Fowler, said Justin Parnagian, director of sales.

“We’ll start with the super rich and spring flame varieties toward the end of May,” he said.

Fowler Packing’s white flesh varieties will follow.

At Visalia Produce Sales Inc., Kingsburg, snow angels also will be the first peach to market, said George Matoian, sales and marketing director. Shipping is scheduled to begin the first week in May.

Reedley-based Family Tree Farms will be offering white-flesh and yellow-flesh peaches by mid-May, said Don Goforth, marketing director.

Harvesting of snow angels was scheduled to begin May 1, he said, with the company’s first yellow-flesh peach, spring flame, expected to be available about May 15.


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