The mix of weather that Washington state has been experiencing has delighted growers of stone fruit such as peaches and nectarines. Producers say the cooler weather early in July, combined with relatively hot conditions towards the end of the month has resulted in particularly sweet fruit this year. The peak of the Washington stone fruit season is approaching.
"Washington was blessed with some relatively cool temperatures from July 4th to July 19th," said Brett Calhoun, General Manager of Vanguard Pride. "This let the stone fruit really develop a strong internal structure and increased the brix content inside the fruit. As we know stone fruit loves the heat, and we received this towards late July which has done just that and now the fruit has structure, taste, and size."
"Country Sweet Peaches and Honey Haven Nectarines are at about mid-way to peak right now," he added. "Both varieties are eating fantastic, but there is definitely something special about the way Country Sweets are eating in particular…. Really, really good!"
First season for Rich Pride peach
Vanguard Pride earlier announced that this would be the first season for the group's Rich Pride peach. Described as a yellow flesh peach that is rounder in shape than other varieties, Vanguard said Rich Pride is also sweeter. They have also implemented growing practices that are designed to enhance the peach's flavor.
"We have just started to make the first pass on the Rich Pride peach," Calhoun shared. "It is our first acid peach of the season. They are sizing well and we expect a great eating experience. Vanguard Pride has a big focus on flavor, this is why we pick fruit from the same tree multiple times, which is a tactic we use to deliver consistently delightful eating experience for the consumer. As you can imagine, it’s a lot more expensive, but it delivers superior product."
He continued by saying that making multiple passes is not unique to Rich Pride, but is extended to all of Vanguard Pride's fruit. "We are really aiming to make every customer happy and we do this by harvesting in a unique way. We might look foolish making seven different harvesting passes through each block, but it really does deliver an exceptional product. We pick the fruit at the optimal time to deliver an exceptional eating experience, and quality."
White flesh stone fruit demand strong in Asia
It has been noted how the Asian market has shown a preference for white fleshed peaches and nectarines. The crunchier profile and sweet flesh lends itself well to this market. Calhoun is encouraging North American consumers to take another look at white fleshed stone fruit as taste trends change and consumers seek new flavor experiences.
"White flesh peaches and nectarines are typically in high demand and the preferred variety for Vanguard International Asia-based customers," he explained. "They are sweet, crunchy, and crisper than their yellow flesh cousins. Historically, they have not had the same exposure to the domestic market, however, typically once the North American consumers try them, they love them. I would encourage households to take another look at the white-flesh stone fruit, you might just find your new favorite!"
Vanguard Pride grows apples, cherries, apricots, peaches and nectarines in Washington state. Sales and marketing for these crops are handled through Sage Fruit. Harvest for these crops out of Washington will continue through to September, the company said.