Ample peach, blueberry crops to start in May

05/09/2011 10:57:37 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Another strong peach year planned, blueberries to hit record production

Georgia peach growers expect another strong season of shipments.

For their blueberry crop, grower-shippers say expected record production should provide retailers volume for strong promotions.

Peaches
Grower-shippers report positive growing conditions. While Georgia’s peach deal usually starts in mid-May, an early bloom may see harvest beginning a couple of days earlier than normal, shippers say.

“The season looks great so far, and we have had ideal growing conditions,” said Duke Lane III, vice president of sales with Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley, Ga.

“Everyone is optimistic for a great crop. The weather conditions have been great.”

Lane said peaches thrived through some extreme winter cold and timely showers, which were followed by a very dry bloom period.

While last year saw a late bloom and a resulting tardy crop, this season’s earlier-than-normal bloom should being some peaches on ahead of normal, Lane said.

Lane called the 2010 season strong and a contrast to the 2007-09 seasons when frost dramatically cut yields.

“We are coming off a good season,” Lane said in mid-April.

“We literally left a good taste in everyone’s mouth for Georgia peaches, and we’re looking to build on that.”

Lane plans to ship 1 million 25-pound half bushel cartons, up from the 700,000 it shipped last season.

Pearson Farm, Fort Valley, plans to begin harvesting several days earlier than usual, a far cry from last season, which saw the deal often running five to seven days later as different varieties bore fruit later than normal, said Al Pearson Jr., president and managing partner.

Pearson called last season a normal and full crop. He said Georgia production should start in mid-May, about 10 days after south Georgia harvesting in the Valdosta, Ga., area begins in early May.

“We are looking for a normal crop,” he said in mid-April.

“We’re not looking for a limb breaker, but a normal crop. Customers should expect good supplies of good quality fruit throughout the season.”

Pearson said season prices often start like “a house afire” in the upper teens and low 20s, but will lower according to supply and how orderly the marketing becomes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture did not report Chilean peach prices in late April because most of the country’s shipments had finished, but in early April reported these prices for Chilean peaches shipped to ports in Philadelphia: Cartons of two-layer tray pack various yellow-flesh varieties 40s sold for $12; 48-52s, $8-10; 56s and 60s, $8.


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