Peach production in Florida is hitting its peak this week and growers and packers alike are busy shipping peaches out to different parts of North America. The season has produced an excellent crop thanks to ideal weather conditions and a lack of tropical storm activity last hurricane season.
“Florida’s peach season started in mid-March and we are now at the very peak of it,” said Steven Callaham of Dundee Citrus Growers Association. “We are seeing excellent volume right now. In fact, it’s probably the best peach crop we’ve had in years as far as volume and eating quality goes. There is good, solid production and we expect to have strong volume right through mid-May.”
Callaham also noted that quality is high. “The fruit is eating great,” he said. “We are seeing high sugar levels and also a good range of sizes.”
Almost all peaches grown in Central Florida
There are quite a number of Florida crops that roll through the different regions in Florida from south to north over the course of the season. This is not really the case with peaches where almost the entire crop is grown in Central Florida. “I would say about 90 percent of our peaches are grown within 10 miles of the packing house,” Callaham observed, adding that they mainly produce Clingstone variety peaches.
He also described the packaging options that the company provides. “The main packaging options we have include an 8lb single layer tray with panta pack, 20lb bulk boxes, and new this year – a 2lb pouch bag. We distribute as far west as the Mississippi River and the entire East Coast up into Canada through our sales arm – Florida Classic Growers.”
Florida peaches experiencing greater demand
According to producers, Florida peaches are gaining traction in the US market, with a progressively larger crop year on year. Some of this has been helped by the U-Pick trend which has helped to shine a light on regional fruit. According to Callaham though, it involves more than that, with the quality of the fruit speaking for itself.
“We are seeing good demand for both U-Pick as well as commercial production,” he explained. “U-Pick is growing as is commercial shipping. Florida is still a relatively new player on the market, but each year, more retailers and other customers get to know the fruit and enjoy the taste and as result, they want more.”