Peach Supply Forecast
New Jersey peach growers expect a steady supply of peaches this summer , following a normal ripening pattern with the first peaches ready for harvest in late June. “It has been a rocky road this winter and spring with temperatures in mid-February and then a series of sub-freezing temperatures over four-five nights when peaches were in various stages of bloom. Fortunately we have come through with a good crop,” says Santo John Maccherone, chair of the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council. Maccherone, who farms with his son in Salem County, said he has seen some injury on nectarines and white peaches, so will not have to do as much thinning to get good size and quality. He does expect a steady supply of yellow-fleshed peaches and nectarines from July 4th until after Labor Day. His peaches are sold under Circle M Fruit Farms.
Bonnie Lundblad of Sunny Valley International in Glassboro said their growers, all in southern New Jersey, report about 75 to 85% of a normal crop. Sunny Valley markets Jersey peaches under the Just Picked and Jersey Fruit label. Kurt Alstede owner of Alstede Farms in Chester, Morris County, reports, “Alstede Farms is looking forward to an excellent local peach crop this year. We have a good fruit set and they are sizing nicely. We are currently thinning the peaches and expect to be open for Pick Your Own between early and mid-July. Nothing beats a ripe local Jersey Fresh Peach!” Alstede Farms markets most of their peaches locally through their retail market.
John Melick of Melick’s Town Farm in Oldwick, Hunterdon County, said “We plan on harvesting a normal crop of peaches this year, despite record low temperatures in mid-February and again in late March. The cold temperatures only partially reduced the peach buds. Since peach trees require a great deal of thinning (removing excess peaches so that the remaining fruit can size properly), it appears that we still have plenty of peaches remaining to make a nice crop. We expect to start our harvest during the first week of July with the bulk of crop arriving in the last week of July through the 2nd week of September.”
Jerry Frecon, professor emeritus, Rutgers University, and consultant to the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council, feels the peach and nectarine crop as a whole is good in New Jersey. In Cumberland and Salem Counties the crop is very good on many farms, but moving north into Gloucester County, and east into Hammonton, crops vary depending on the farm, the varieties grown and the temperature experienced in early April that influenced the survivability of flower and fruit buds. Stated Frecon, “We have peaches growing in practically every county in the state and the crop size varies at each location, but it is safe to say we have a 75% crop. In a normal year we grow and market about 60 to 65 million pounds or 2.6 million boxes so if we have 75 % that should equate to about 1.95 to 2 million boxes in 2016.”
“We have had a good growing season to date in terms of moisture and temperature” said Leonard Grasso, owner of Angelo Grasso and Sons Farm in Mullica Hill. “Fruit seems to be sizing nicely and, with the sunny days and high temperatures in June, peach growers can expect good quality.”
The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council is a non-profit voluntary organization of growers, shippers, wholesalers and associated industries dedicated to maintaining a viable peach industry in the Garden State for the purpose of preserving farmers and farmland; and to providing the highest quality and best tasting fresh peaches for consumers. New Jersey is the fourth largest peach producing state in the country, with approximately 80 orchards on 5,000 acres.