U.S.: Substantial rise in stonefruit volume for Oneonta
After a cooler-than-normal spring, a somewhat later stone fruit season is in store for the Pacific Northwest this year, but harvest is bringing both great quality and increased volume – particularly in organics – to Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers (OSRG).
In a release, the Wenatchee, Washington State-based company said it expected volumes to be up 20-30% year-on-year with the harvest starting around June 20 for organic and conventional apricots.
Grown in the Yakima region, the highly flavorful apricots, nectarines, peaches, pluots and Italian prunes from Oneonta tend to meet late season demand as other areas wind down.
The grower-shipper's marketing director Scott Marboe said this year's chilly spring set the stonefruit bloom back two to three weeks compared to 2016, but the overall crop was maturing beautifully and abundantly.
he apricots will ship through mid-August, and peak promotion time will fall during the first three weeks of July. Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers is packing the fruit in its increasingly popular pouch bags.
National marketing representative Bruce Turner noted organic apricots had made significant gains in popularity, and OSRG was both planting new trees and converting existing acreage to organic.
“Most of the new organic apricots are the Robada variety,” Turner said, adding that the Robada was larger than other apricots, with terrific flavor and color.
“Our warm days and cool nights produce great eating stone fruit with exceptional color. It really is the best eating fruit available.
"The organic apricots are packed in the Starr Ranch Organics label and high color varieties will packed in the Gourmet label. The Gourmet program was brought back due to the high demand from last year. Only the best color and best flavor is packed in this label, and consumers can’t get enough of them!"
The peach harvest is expected to begin around July 20, and the season will go to the end of August. Organic peaches will start August 5, Turner said. Peak promotion time for the fruit will be the middle weeks of August.
Both organic and conventional nectarines are expected to start July 25, and they will ship through the end of August. Turner said best promotion time for nectarines will be the first three weeks of July, and he added a new organic white nectarine has been added to the mix this year.
That variety will start Aug. 20 and finish the first week of September.
Conventional Italian fresh prunes will start the first week of August and finish the end of the month.
And the last stone fruit item to ship from OSRG will be an organic pluot. The Flavor Grenade variety will start Sept. 1 and run for two weeks.
Turner said Oneonta’s commitment to organic stone continues to grow, and this year one-third of the production is certified.
“Our plan is for the majority of our trees to be organic in the next two to three years,” he said, adding that each item is increasing in organic production now.