The California stone fruit season is off to a delayed start by approximately two weeks. “We have some earlier ranches in Kettleman City that we start about two weeks ahead of the valley and so we started around May 1st this year. Typically we would have started about April 15,” says Chad Allred of Kingsburg Orchards, noting it’s in its third week of harvest and packing while most of the other parts of the valley are in week two. The delay in the schedule is due to the frost and rain that we had during the spring.
Right now, Kingsburg Orchards is harvesting apricots, yellow peaches, white peaches, yellow nectarines, white nectarines and flat white peaches. It expects to start plums in the second week of June. “This year, we have a medium-sized crop of peaches and nectarines and probably plums as well,” says Allred. “Apricots are down a little bit just because they were affected by the frost. Apricots are maybe 15-20 percent down.”
Strong seasonal start
He adds that the early fruit is a bit lighter than average but the color, Brix and eating characteristics are strong. “It’s been one of the best starts to the season we have had in regards to flavor,” he says. “Usually when we see good sugar to begin the season, it stays that way consistently throughout the year.”
To meet that good quality fruit is very strong demand. “With a lot of commodities being late, there hasn’t been a lot of product in the stores so the demand is extremely high and I expect it to stay very high throughout the season,” says Allred.
As for pricing, it’s up overall from last year and Allred believes it will stay strong throughout the season.