by The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council
GLASSBORO, NJ — Other than a mild February which forced apricots and some plum varieties to bloom early, most New Jersey peaches experienced a cool and relatively normal winter.
“While our peaches and nectarines bloomed about ten days early we have not had sub-freezing temperatures to injure peach flowers and fruit”, said Santo John Maccherone, owner of Circle M Farms in Salem, chair of the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council(NJPPC) and president of the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture. “My crop is mostly heavy except for a block of the late yellow-fleshed peach Jerseyqueen and some white-fleshed nectarine varieties.” He emphasized that crop development is running about ten days earlier than 2016 and he expects to be picking and marketing his first peaches in late June.
“We have a full crop of fruit this year” said Tom Holtzhauser, operator of Holtzhauser Farms on Woodland Avenue in Mullica Hill. “Last year we were badly hurt by spring temperatures and our crop was nonexistent,” Mr. Holtzhauser, a director of the NJPPC sells a wide variety of peaches white and yellow fleshed, and flat peaches both retail at his farm market and wholesale to various restaurants and farm market buyers.
“Most growers in southern New Jersey have started to thin off their heavy crop at this time,” stated Jerry Frecon, technical and horticultural consultant to the NJPPC, professor emeritus at Rutgers University and a retired peach specialist.. “A few growers were brave enough to even thin blossoms with mechanical and string thinners. Brave because there is always a high probability of low temperature injury during bloom so thinning at this time can be very risky.” He said most growers are thinning off small fruit by hand and with mechanical aids.
Recent statistics published by the NJ Peach Promotion Council estimate that NJ growers are producing about 5500 acres of peaches and nectarines and should harvest between 55 and 60 million pounds of fruit in 2017. “We are always optimistic at this time of the year,” said Maccherone, “but we still have a long way until we pick and market the fruit, and lots of things can happen.”
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.