NJ Peach Crop Survived Hurricane

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CLAYTON – Much of New Jersey’s remaining peach crop survived the winds and rains of Hurricane Irene, according to Jerry Frecon, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Cooperative Extension, speaking from Heilig Orchards, where he was inspecting the peach orchards.

“While there was some fruit that blew off trees we escaped with less loss than originally expected in southern New Jersey,” said Frecon.

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“Growers in south Jersey, location of the state’s largest orchards, were picking late-season peaches and nectarines right through the weekend, until the rain and wind came. We had more rain than wind, which didn’t harm the peaches as much as high winds would have. Some peaches did fall off trees, but because about 75 percent of the crop was harvested and sold prior to the storm we are not facing the disaster of many of our farming colleagues in the state.”

According to Phil Neary, director of grower relations & operations at Sunny Valley Intl. the state’s largest marketing firm, they will be packing plenty of locally grown peaches and nectarines for store delivery through at least Sept. 15. “Our peaches are in much better shape and supply than we anticipated before Irene came in,” says Neary.

The Rutgers NJAES has been evaluating and developing white and yellow fleshed varieties to improve the state’s late-season marketing program for growers and shippers. Growers are just beginning to harvest the major late season white- fleshed peach, Snow Giant; the super sweet white fleshed Lady Nancy has already been harvested. Late season varieties really have the finest of flavors because they have been hanging on the tree all season accumulating carbohydrates including sugar.

“We have great yellow fleshed varieties available like Flamin Fury PF 27A, Jerseyqueen, Autumn Star, Flame Prince, Fayette, Encore, Laurel, Big Red, Parade and Victoria to fill out the season,” says Frecon. “We know consumers want our peaches well into fall, and we hope large retailers will continue to display and sell Jersey Fresh local peaches.”

New Jersey is the fourth largest peach grower in the country. Local peaches come from 90 orchards in 100 different varieties–yellow, white, donut (flat, round) and nectarines.


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