Apr 27, 2023
Start of stone fruit season delayed, expected to pick up in May
Early varieties of California stone fruit are being delayed by as much as two weeks because of rain and cold weather, which has affected bloom and pollination.
Buyers told Organic Produce Network that they are seeing a slow start to cherries, apricots and plums, while others said the self-pollinating properties of peaches and nectarines are mitigating the effects on those crops.
“We are one or two weeks later than last year’s start date on most of the early varieties,” Stephen Paul, stone fruit category manager for Homegrown Organic Farms in Porterville, California, told OPN.
Paul expects to have organic apricots by mid-May with peaches and nectarines coming into steady volume by the third and fourth week of the month.
Jarod Hunting, a produce buyer for Earl’s Organic Produce, is expecting to see organic stone fruit volume by Memorial Day, with promotional opportunities in abundance by the Fourth of July.
“There’s nothing yet,” Hunting said. “What I am hearing from our suppliers is that everything has been pushed back about two weeks. It’s going to be the first and second weeks of May before we see cherries and apricot, and a week after that before we see any peaches or nectarines.”
Cindy Richter, director of business development for Fruit World in Reedley, said that while the weather makes it hard to predict when stone fruit will be available, it does have some benefits.
“The warm days and cool nights are great for the fruit,” she said. “It helps stone fruit size up and color.”
In other news from OPN’s Week 17 report:
Supplies of Fair Trade organic Royal Star papayas from Mexico are good, with fruit sizing larger than normal with higher color. Organic pineapple supplies from Costa Rica have been steady with excellent quality, while organic Ataulfo honey mangoes from Mexico are in peak season into May. Mexican organic round mangoes are more limited than usual, but supply is expected to improve in May and June.
Organic Hass avocado availability is strong, with organic dragon fruit availability expected at the beginning of May.
Organic Honeycrisp apples supply is tightening, as are supplies of organic Gala and Granny Smiths until imports arrive in mid-May. Organic Ambrosia apples will finish for the season in the first week of May.
Organic grape tomatoes from Florida will be promotable through May, while organic cherry and rainbow cherry tomato production from the state is slowing down as production shifts to Georgia. Organic Roma tomato markets are getting active, with prices rising as fields transition to Mexico, while organic cluster tomatoes are in excellent supply.
Organic asparagus fields in Mexico are transitioning, with limited availability. Domestic supplies are available, but prices will be higher with sourcing transitioning to California, with a small amount of product available from Mew Jersey.
The first Georgia-grown organic Vidalia sweet onions are now available, while red, yellow and white premium onions out of Nevada are winding down. The new crop of El Centro-grown onions should start shipping the first week of May.
Organic romaine and green and red leaf lettuce is in strong supply with harvests out of Georgia, while California lettuce volume has improved and Pennsylvania and New Jersey lettuces are expected to begin in early May.
Santa Maria, California harvests of organic strawberries have begun with excellent quality, while organic blueberry prices will begin to ease as domestic production begins. The first arrivals of Georgia blueberries have seen excellent quality, while California supplies are slowly increasing. Organic blackberries are steady with prices slightly elevated because of lower volume, while organic raspberry production in central Mexico is winding down and California supplies delayed because of weather woes.