Demand is strong for California organic peaches and nectarines and it’s outpacing supplies.
“The crop set this year was tremendous on stone fruit. We had a terrific cherry season and our apricots were the largest bumper crop we’d seen in years. And we had a good set on peaches and nectarines. While our volume is higher than last year, the demand is there as well,” says Cindy Richter of Reedley, CA-based Fruit World.
Fruit World brought on the organic Flame 29 yellow-fleshed peaches this season.
This season Fruit World brought on the organic Flame 29 yellow-fleshed peaches and continues to exclusively market the organic Masumoto Family Farm’s peaches. At the Masumotos, it’s currently harvesting the Sun Crest variety, which is its last variety of the season.
Fruit World’s peach season will likely go into late July and its nectarines could go into early August. Also from the Masumoto family, Fruit World is currently working with the Late Le Grand variety of nectarines. “The Le Grands are a little bit smaller in size this year and we may finish up early,” says Richter.
New opportunity for off sizes
Also this season, the Masumoto family is capturing off sizes and off grades of fruit and Fruit World is helping get that fruit pureed and used for kombucha.
Challenging those supplies of nectarines and peaches though has been the intense heat in California over the past 10-14 days. “It’s caused the fruit ripening to slow down. Peaches and nectarines love 100-degree weather. But once it gets to be 110-112+ degrees, the tree shuts down and protects itself and the ripening process really stops until the temperatures come down,” says Fruit World’s CJ Buxman. “A lot of the peaches and nectarines are seven to 10 days behind and everything is a bit smaller now because of that heat.”
The Sun Crest peach variety from Masumoto Family Farm is currently being harvested and is the last peach variety of its season.
While most California growers are contending too with the drought the state is experiencing, Buxman adds that Fruit World is feeling the stress of the water issue, but not to the same extent as growers in other counties.
The bigger challenge has been labor. “We used to have 10-15 workers show up for harvest and now that’s cut in half without notice. So a labor shortage is something we have to work around--not only us as growers but for packing houses as well,” says Buxman.
Meanwhile pricing has been strong on both peaches and nectarines this season.