Florida shipping peaches, Georgia to see later season start

04/25/2014 07:42:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Al Finch, vice president of sales and marketing for Florida Classic Growers, the marketing arm of the Dundee Citrus Growers Association, examines some Florida peaches in late April.Doug OhlemeierAl Finch, vice president of sales and marketing for Florida Classic Growers, examines Florida peaches in late April. Grower-shippers say Florida’s season is going well and the deal is expected to transition into Georgia production which is set to start in late May. DUNDEE, Fla. — Florida’s peach harvest could run into late May, which might help with expected smaller supplies brought by a later starting Georgia deal.

Florida growers began harvesting in late March and plan to ship through Memorial Day, when Georgia expects to start its harvest, later than its typical mid-May start.

Al Finch, vice president of sales and marketing for Florida Classic Growers, the marketing arm of the Dundee Citrus Growers Association, said quality as high and volume is increasing every season.

Florida Classic is shipping 2 ¼-inch and larger fruit to the Northeast, Canada, North Dakota and Texas, he said.

“Even though our size profile isn’t as big as some of our competition, we make up with flavor,” Finch said in late April. “Retail demand for these tree-ripened peaches is growing. More and more of our retail partners are coming on board with the program.”

In its third year of shipping, Dundee is harvesting from more than 400 acres and expects to ship from 600 acres next season, Finch said.

Workers grade peaches on the packing line in late April at Florida Classic Growers, the marketing arm of the Dundee Citrus Growers Association in Dundee, Fla.Doug OhlemeierWorkers grade peaches on the packing line in late April at Florida Classic Growers, the marketing arm of the Dundee Citrus Growers Association in Dundee, Fla. Clear Springs Packing LLC in Bartow plans to ship from central Florida through late May and through mid-June from its Wildwood grove in north Florida, said Craig Underhill, director of sales.

Demand is exceeding supply,” he said in late April. “We were sold-out at this time last year and are sold-out now. Because of our window between Chile and Georgia, these peaches are lifting a lot of eyes.”

Clear Springs’ growers increased production from 40 acres last year to 240 acres this season, Underhill said.

While Georgia typically begins light harvesting in mid-May, after some spring freezes damaged early production, the Peach State isn’t expected to start significant harvesting until early June with promotable volume starting in early July, said Will McGehee, sales manager for the Fort Valley, Ga.-based Genuine Georgia Group and Pearson Farm.

“There will be slim pickings in May and June will be a slow crawl-up,” he said in late April. “With all they’ve been through, it’s a miracle we have a crop this year.”

Because of shorter volume, retailers shouldn’t plan aggressive promotions until July, when volume and flavor should hit their traditional peaks, McGehee said.

Duke Lane III, vice president of sales with the Fort Valley-based Lane Southern Orchards and president of the Byron-based Georgia Peach Council, said Georgia plans to open the season with 30% of a normal May crop.

Duke Lane IIILane“What’s left looks good,” he said in late April. “There’s not too much to the May crop. I still have a lot of optimism about this year’s crop.

“The fact that there’s damage across the country makes me think the overall peach deal is going to be shorter from beginning to end. Demand will certainly be there and we will likely see some higher f.o.b.s to offset the shorter crop.”

In late April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture wasn't reporting Florida prices.

Georgia usually opens the season in the $20s but Lane said he expects prices at the start to soar to $30-35 a carton.

Last year in early June, the USDA reported these prices for peaches from central Georgia: 1/2 bushel cartons of various yellow flesh varieties sold for $20.65-22.65 for 2 1/2 inches and higher and $16.65 for 2 ¼-inch and larger.

In late April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture wasn't reporting Florida prices.



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