GLASSBORO, N.J. — After a warmer than normal February and a cool March, New Jersey peach growers anticipate an abundant crop of peach flowers, peaking with a full bloom in mid-April.
This bloom date will be considered historically normal according to Jerry Frecon, professor emeritus at Rutgers New Jersey, retired area fruit agent in southern New Jersey, and consultant for the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council.
“With the unusual winters and overall weather we have been having in New Jersey, the term ‘normal’ under these conditions means about April 15 to 20. This can be good for our industry because statistically the later we bloom, we are further removed from the possibility of frost and low temperature injury to developing peach flowers.”
“We always have cold enough winters like 2017-2018 so we do not have to worry about lack of chilling in New Jersey”, said Santo John Maccherone, owner of Circle M Fruit Farms in Salem and chair of the NJPPC. “My crop of flowers is heavy on all peach and nectarine varieties.” Maccherone farms with his son John in southwestern New Jersey.
In spite of the recent crazy weather the Maccherones expect to be picking and marketing their first peaches in late June and early July.
“We grow a full line of white and yellow fleshed peaches and nectarines plus flat peaches and oriental plums. It’s unusual but everything has a full crop of flowers so far,” said Maccherone. “We are optimistic about our peach crop prospects for 2018.”
Leonard Grasso, owner of Angelo Grasso and Son Farms with his father Angelo, grows peaches south of Mullica Hill, in Gloucester County, New Jersey.
“We are in good shape with all of our trees pruned, new trees planted, and anticipate a full crop of flowers,” said Grasso. “We also grow a variety of vegetable crops, which gives us a hedge against financial loss in case we get some flower injury from lower temperatures, or other adverse weather that might reduce our peach crop.”
The Grassos expect to be marketing peaches from early July into September under the Top Crop label through the marketer Donio Inc in Hammonton, N.J.
“We continue to expand our peach and nectarine plantings and are optimistic about the abundant flowers which will set up a full crop of peaches and nectarines,” said Lewis DeEugenio, owner of Summit City Farms and Winery near Glassboro and president of Jersey Fruit Marketing Cooperative in Glassboro. “We have a planting of the best new yellow-fleshed peaches and nectarines on our new farm on Route 538 near Monroeville, N.J., which will produce its first big crop this year. We are always looking at new ways to market our Jersey Fruit label and this year have put in a new specialty pack line at Eastern Pro Pak in Glassboro that packs for us and other growers under the Jersey Fruit Brand.”
Recent statistics published by the National Peach Council estimate that New Jersey growers are producing about 5500 acres of peaches and nectarines and should harvest between 55, and 60 million pounds of fruit in 2018.
“We are always optimistic at this time of year,” said Maccherone. “But we still have a long way until we pick and market the fruit, and lots of things can happen to reduce the crop”.
— New Jersey Peach Promotion Council