Following heavy spring rains, most of Georgia’s late spring fruit is expected to begin harvesting volume later than normal.
The state’s watermelon is also running behind.
Peach State growers don’t expect to ship high volumes of peaches until after Independence Day.
Spring freezes damaged early varieties and growers expect only 30% of a crop in late May, said Duke Lane III, vice president of sales with Fort Valley, Ga.-based Lane Southern Orchards.
The season’s timing should be similar to last year and begin around May 21, later than the typical mid-May start, with growers predicted to harvest a handful of peaches through mid-June, he said.
“I don’t believe many houses will be operating in late May and early June,” Lane said in late April. “There will be low supplies through mid-June. After the Fourth of July, our volume will start. That will be the best opportunity to put the best-eating peaches in the mouths of retailers’ shoppers.”
Because of the shorter volume, Will McGehee, sales manager for the Fort Valley-based Genuine Georgia Group and Pearson Farm, said retailers shouldn’t plan big promotions until after July Fourth, when the crop should be at the height of its volume and flavor.
“This year, we will stretch into late August and it will be a really fantastic back half of the season,” he said. “Once we get past the first weeks, once the volume comes, the peaches we will pick then will be phenomenal. We are as excited about this crop as we have been in years.”
South Carolina normally begins harvesting in late May and harvests through early September while California typically begins in mid- to late May and produces through September.
Georgia’s typically ends in mid-August.
Georgia watermelon production should start June 15, about a week later than normal, said Greg Leger, president and owner of Cordele, Ga.-based Leger & Son Inc.
He said he expects about a week of overlap in mid-June between north Florida’s ending and Georgia’s start.
Though that overlap often affects volume and pricing, Leger said he doesn’t see anything that could crash the market during the transition.
“I think the volume will be there (during our season),” he said in late April. “If the acreage makes, we should have ample supply. I don’t think there will be any overproduction.”
The delayed plantings should also help extend the season past the typical July Fourth finish to mid-July, Leger said.
Borders Melons East plans to begin harvesting June 9-10, as usual.
Mark Paulk, salesman and general manager for Adel, Ga.-based Borders Melons East, a part of Edinburg, Texas-based Borders Melon Co. Inc., said he expects full production to start in mid-June.
“I think you’ll see us going strong by June 18,” he said. “We will be in production full-bore with promotional volume for the Fourth of July holiday during the weeks of the June 23 and the June 30. The last few years, we have been running and peaking a little earlier than normal, about a week too early, so the peak harvest time this year should be more normal for Fourth of July promotions.”