“It’s complicated,” he said. “There are very strict requirements to ship from Chile, and a lot of very frustrated growers and importers.”
Lake Success, N.Y.-based William H. Kopke Jr. Inc. expected to begin receiving Chilean stone fruit by mid-December, said Peter Kopke, the company’s president.
Industry-wide volumes may not be up this season, but Kopke expects to import more, Kopke said.
Rain in mid-October and more rain forecast for later in the fall likely will have the biggest effect on cherries, but Chilean stone fruit also could be affected, said Josh Leichter, general manager of Reedley, Calif.-based Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC.
“Stone fruit will likely be impacted to a slightly less degree,” Leichter said.
Pacific Trellis’s Chilean stone fruit program this season will be tilted most heavily toward plums, followed by nectarines, then peaches, Leichter said.
Peaches are No. 3 on that list for a reason, Leichter said, though shippers and importers continue to work hard to find ways to send the highest-quality fruit to market.
“The key is to keep current with varieties, and to understand that each variety has a relatively short window,” he said. “Some who stick to that have pretty good success.”
Nathel International, Pittsgrove, N.J., expects to begin receiving Chilean stone fruit in mid-December, said Paul Newstead, director and vice president of sales and marketing.
Shipments should continue into April.
“We’re heavier into plums, but we do a fair percentage of peaches and nectarines,” he said. “We’re fairly representative of the industry as a whole.”
It’s an industry, Newstead points out, that in 2011-12 imported about as many plums from Chile as peaches and nectarines combined.