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Yields vary as Calif. stone fruit harvests near end

Tim Hearden

Capital Press

As the harvests of stone fruit in California are wrapping up, growers say the quality of the fruit is excellent but some varieties' yields are down. The picking of other summer fruit is ongoing.

CORNING, Calif. — As harvests of peaches and other stone fruit nears their end, fruit quality is high but some yields are down because of drought and other factors, growers say.

Observers say the overall stone fruit crop could be as much as 20 percent smaller than last year’s as acreage has dropped slightly and dry conditions may have reduced the crop, the California Farm Bureau Federation reports.

At R and K Orchards here, two of the farm’s four yellow peach varieties — O’Henry and Elberta — were light this season, co-owner Karen Mills said.

“Everything else is good,” she said. “We’re done now.”

This year’s peach, plum and nectarine harvests got started a little earlier than normal this year, so growers expect to mostly wrap up within the next week or so, the Farm Bureau noted.

For clingstone peaches, full bloom occurred slightly earlier than last year, and earlier varieties appeared to set better than later ones, growers told the National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Sacramento.

Harvests of apricots also began early because of warm spring and summer temperatures with variable fruit set but excellent quality, the agency reported.

Among other summer fruit in California:

• Raisin grapes were laid down on trays last week in Tulare and Madera counties as the harvest of all types of grapes continued at a rapid pace, NASS reported. The picking of winegrapes is returning to normal in the Napa Valley after the 6.0-magnitude earthquake there on Aug. 24, and wineries are continuing to assess damage, according to the CFBF.

• The Valencia orange harvest is still ongoing in the San Joaquin Valley, with a majority of the oranges going to the domestic market as citrus greening has been a problem, NASS reported. Europe and other destinations don’t accept oranges that have been sprayed to prevent greening, California Citrus Mutual officials have explained. However, some fruit is being sent to Hong Kong and Mexico, according to NASS.

• Asian, Bartlett and Bosc pears are being harvested and packed for export, industry officials told NASS.



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