Von Rohr said one niche market for New Jersey peaches that is catching on are “ready to eat” peaches.
The 2¾- to 3-inch peaches are picked at a high maturity level and hand-placed into two layers of boxes. Extreme care in packing is necessary to protect against the chance of bruising, which is more likely at higher maturity.
“Peaches are all picked at a high maturity level, and we’ve even done some special packs where we pick them at full maturity,” he said. “The fruit is left to hang on the trees even longer than normal, and there was one year where they even hand-picked them right from the tree to the box, which is labor-intensive.”
Von Rohr said the larger size does not mean better taste. Nonetheless, consumers enjoy the mature fruit.
“If we have a lot out there that we feel can sit on the tree a little bit longer, we pick those a lot more carefully and pack those carefully for advance-orders only,” he said.
Von Rohr said last year’s pilot program was successful and the company will be offering the program again to limited retailers this year.