WA Nectarine Growers Optimistic about 2012 Crop


        Organic stone fruit growers in Washington reported a slow start to the nectarine season in terms of movement and volume. But now that the peak of the season has arrived, growers are optimistic going forward.

        "There was a little bit of a slow start to the nectarine season, but it's going very well now," said Addie Pobst of CF Fresh, Inc. in Washington. Harvesting of nectarines typically begins in the latter part of July and continues through September.

        "Unlike the cherries, plums and apricots which tended to be smaller than usual this year, the nectarines have really sized up nicely and are running a bit larger than average," said Pobst. That has been a good turn of luck since market demand tends to skew toward larger fruit. With larger nectarines being picked, growers can better supply consumers who want big fruit.

        Though it's not clear exactly how much fruit will be picked this year, growers have noted a good quantity of fruit on the trees. Quality is expected to be high with anecdotal reports from growers pointing to sweet fruit.

        Another good turn to the season has been the avoidance of hail that damaged some apple and pear orchards. Pobst attributed that good fortune to the location of most of the state's nectarine orchards. With most nectarines grown on lower-elevation slopes where the warm weather is not as amenable to hail formation, nectarines were spared the hail that hit higher-elevation orchards. That's allowed growers to deliver good volumes of fruit right as the peak of harvesting has begun. With all of those things falling into place, the year has turned out well for nectarines, noted Pobst.

        "Some growers said they got off to a slow start," she said. "But they're now hitting their stride and the fruit is coming off the trees very nicely, looking and tasting great."

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Addie Pobst
CF Fresh, Inc.