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California stone fruit returns to regular timing

California stone fruit harvesting is just on the cusp of starting this week. 
“We’re about six to eight days later than last year,” says Jon McClarty of Kingsburg, Ca.-based HMC Farms, which harvests peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and more. “It’s just the weather in the winter and spring.” 

In fact, this year’s harvest brings stone fruit’s seasonality more in line with traditional harvest timing. “2015 was the earliest year on record for us and 2016 was even earlier. 2015 retailers weren’t really ready for the crop and 2016 was the same thing,” says McClarty. “Now that we’re pushed back, they’d finally adjusted to the last two years and they’re wondering why we’re so late. This is actually normal times.” 

Fruit back up to regular sizes
Looking ahead, McClarty anticipates a normal sized crop for the front half of the season and a potentially lighter crop for the second half. The fruit has also returned to more expected sizing. “Last year was one of the smaller-sized fruit years that we can remember. And that was just due to a really good fruit set—the trees were really heavily set and by hand you take off pieces of premature fruit. When there’s more on the tree, it takes longer to get through all the fields and that was part of the reason fruit was small last year,” he says. “This year the fruit should be bigger than last year—it’s normal.”

Domestic competition
As for competing crops, McClarty notes that most of its competition comes from domestic crops from Idaho, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the southern U.S.—with the exception of a small amount of peaches coming in from Mexico right now. “We compete on peaches for example with the southern growing US regions such as South Carolina and Georgia. Because they’ve struggled a bit with their crop, it should have a positive impact on demand for California fruit,” he says.

For more information:
Jon McClarty
HMC Farms
Tel: +1 559 897 1025

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