The numbers are in. The California Tree Fruit Agreement (CTFA) has announced the official crop estimate for California peaches, plums and nectarines.

Volume is anticipated to be 21.18 million packages for peaches (16.09 million yellow flesh; 5.09 million Summerwhite), 11.87 million for plums and 20.68 million for nectarines (15.66 million yellow flesh; 5.02 million Summerwhite). The total is 53.73 million, which is more than 10 percent less fruit than in 2002 and 2003.

"This year’s estimate is about four million boxes under the 2004 estimate," said Blair Richardson CTFA president. "Also, there should be a more normal size distribution this year, and we do not expect such an impacted front end of the season as seen in 2004 that resulted in large volumes of fruit maturing in May and June. Accordingly, the opportunity to market this crop at all levels should be much more positive in 2005, which should be good for growers, shippers, retailers and consumers."

This year, the fruit is expected to have an additional 15 to 18 days of "on the tree" time over last year, which will allow the fruit to obtain better sizing and accumulate more sugar. This prediction for fruit sizing is obtained by looking at the length of time between the end of the bloom and the start of harvest.

Harvest timing

In addition, this year’s harvest timing is running fairly close to normal. In terms of relating this to 2004, CTFA is anticipating harvest at about three days later than 2004 in the early season, progressing to six days later from June on.

This crop estimate was made possible by analyses from CTFA field staff, as well as information derived from crop projection models developed at the University of California at Davis, Kearney Ag Center in Parlier, Calif. Researchers utilize a database with 30 years’ worth of information on bloom timing, temperatures following the bloom period, and start dates in order to project timing for each year’s crop. This same estimate model accurately predicted the early harvest in 2004.

The California Tree Fruit Agreement, headquartered in Reedley, Calif., administers marketing order programs on behalf of California's 2,000 fresh peach, plum and nectarine farmers.