Chill hours promise a strong New Jersey peach crop

05/31/2013 11:35:00 AM
Andrew Nelson

Courtesy Sunny Valley InternationalSunny Valley International is the exclusive marketing agent for Jersey Fruit and Just Picked peaches grown in New Jersey. New Jersey peaches, in their fifth century of production, have more than stood the test of time. The 2013 season promises to be no different, with growers and officials reporting new plantings.

Glassboro, N.J.-based Sunny Valley International expects to begin shipping Jersey-grown peaches at the beginning of July, a typical start but five days later than last season’s early start, said Bob Von Rohr, marketing and customer relations manager.

“We had a good winter, with plenty of chill hours and moisture,” Von Rohr said.

Sunny Valley expects to ship peaches through mid-September. The company ships mainly yellow-flesh varieties and expects a similar mix of yellow and white-flesh production this year, Von Rohr said.


New trees boost yields

Some Jersey growers are pulling out old trees and adding new ones, Von Rohr said. Some trees planted three to five years ago are coming into production this season.

Better yields and color are among the attributes growers are looking for, he said.

“They’re working with Rutgers on more customer-friendly varieties. Color is very important for consumers.”

Freshwave Fruit & Produce LLC, Vineland, N.J., expects to begin harvesting right after the Fourth of July, with some pallet volume that week and load volumes by the following week, said Skip Consalo, the company’s president.

That’s about a week later than usual, but the company doesn’t count on fruit for Fourth of July pull in a normal year anyway, Consalo said.

Everything looks good heading into the 2013 season, he said.

Cool weather early in the growing season should ensure long shelf life, and warmer weather later in the season has been great for sugars and overall quality, Consalo said.

Freshwave expects to ship at least 20% more and possibly up to 30% more peaches this season, Consalo said.

Some new acreage the company’s grower-partners have been developing for several years should start to come into production this season.


An industry renaissance

Since the 17th century, peach trees have thrived in New Jersey’s soil and climate, Santo John Maccherone, chairman of the Glassboro-based New Jersey Peach Promotion Council, said in a news release.

And according to Maccherone and others, this year represents a kind of renaissance for the industry.

“Planting more trees is a healthy sign for the New Jersey peach industry,” said Maccherone, whose Salem-based Circle M Farms has increased acreage of both yellow- and white-fleshed peaches and nectarines for 2013.

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