During spring meetings of the California Tree Fruit Agreement, grower committees set official pre-season crop estimates at 23 million 25-pound packages for peaches; 23 million 25-pound packages of nectarines and 16 million 28-pound packages of plums. Included in this expected production, are nearly 10 million packages of Summerwhite peach and nectarine varieties. These varieties now represent 20 percent of the total peach and nectarine crop from California.

Harvest has already begun in the early producing areas of Bakersfield, and the industry expects to be in full swing within the next few weeks.

"The industry is expecting excellent quality California peaches, plums and nectarines this season with crop timing very similar to last year," said Blair Richardson, president of CTFA, who noted that last year’s timing was actually about a week behind what is considered normal. "Consumers and retailers should be looking for major features of the fruits anytime during the months of June, July and August, with the peak period for nectarines coming around July 4, peaches in late July and August and plums from late June on."

Budgets, rates

In other business addressed at CTFA industry meetings, the committees approved budgets, assessment rates and program activities for the year. Assessments for peaches and plums will remain the same for 2002 as they were last year at 19 cents per box for peaches and 20 cents per box for plums. The Nectarine Administrative Committee voted to lower the assessment rate for fresh nectarines from the 20 cents per box rate in 2001 to 19 cents per box for the coming season.

The overall budget for CTFA program activities was set at $12.7 million which includes anticipated fruit inspection costs of $3.1 million, a research budget of just under $400,000, domestic promotion expenditures of $5.2 million and an international promotion program which utilizes $1 million in assessment dollars, with an additional $1 million in funding expected to come from the Federal Market Access Program and other sources.

"Our programs for 2002 are designed to aggressively promote this year’s crop of peaches, plums and nectarines," said Richardson. "We are looking forward to the coming season and anticipate good movement of the high quality crop coming our way."