The 2009 California peach crop is forecast at 800,000 tons, down 6 percent from 2008 and 16 percent below two years ago, according to the Sacramento, Calif., field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

The California Freestone crop is forecast at 370,000 tons, down 13 percent from last year and 17 percent below the 2007 crop.

Although California experienced an adequate number of chilling hours, frost damage was reported in some areas due to freezing temperatures in early March.

Harvest began in mid-April with the Super Rich, Super Lady, and Snow Angel varieties.

The California Clingstone crop is forecast at 430,000 tons, up 1 percent from last year, but 15 percent below the 2007 crop, NASS reports. Full bloom was declared on March 15, five days later than in 2008. The 2009 bloom was rated good to very good in all areas.

Freezing temperatures in early March resulted in some reported light frost damage. After early March rainstorms, good weather aided pruning, spraying, and tree planting. By the end of April, the fruit was starting to differentiate in size. Thinning in most areas was expected to start during the middle of May.