Sweet and decadent: NJ peaches are sure to please this season
Cobbler…pie…jam..or simply on its own. Nothing says summer like sinking your teeth into a sweet, juicy, Jersey peach.
Typically peach season in the state starts in early July and ends in mid-September. But due to a rainy April coupled with a cold snap, the season trend is on the later side, said Kyle Holman, brand manager at Alstede Farms in Chester. But they got lucky.
“When it did get cold, it was still windy. So, when that wind is blowing around the farm, it doesn’t allow for things to freeze at that point,” he said.
It’s not going to be a huge crop or a record-setting crop but the peach industry was very fortunate in avoiding consequences that other fruit and vegetable farmers were hit with, said Tom Beaver, New Jersey Promotions Director at Sunny Valley International in Glassboro.
Nevertheless, it should be a good season for peaches in The Garden State.
“We’re expecting a very strong crop. We’re expecting great marketing opportunities and that there will be ample windows to buy New Jersey peaches, and to see New Jersey peaches promoted at retail. So, we’re very excited about where the season’s going,” Beaver said.
Holman said yellow, white, and donut peaches are very popular peach varieties grown on New Jersey pick-your-own farms. Beaver said early peach varieties include Sentry and Glen Glo. They are excellent in size and quality.
When it comes to varieties, what growers do is, even though there are differences in varieties, they’re choosing varieties that perform best at certain points in the season, Beaver added.
Farmers look at color, size, sugar content, and flavor profile when deciding what peach varieties they want to plant.
Peaches love the heat and New Jersey has a unique soil and a great climate best suited for peach growing. Holman said when it’s time to pick a peach, pay attention to the fruit’s color and firmness.
“You want a peach that’s not necessarily as firm because that means it really hasn’t grown or is ready to be picked at that point. Color, firmness, or texture is key when it comes to pick-your-own,” Holman said.
New Jersey is a national leader in peach production, ranking third or fourth in the country behind California, South Carolina, and Georgia, Holman, and Beaver said.
New Jersey is known for direct-from-the-farm marketing and also selling wholesale volume into retail grocery stores, Beaver added. The state is a major player in the stone fruit business overall. That takes people by surprise because they don’t think of the state in the same terms that they think of the southeast or California when it comes to peach growing.
Holman said New Jersey has grown more peaches than the state of Georgia at times. He believes last year was one of those years.
Not only do residents enjoy Jersey peaches but our peaches are shipped up and down the east coast, as well to Chicago and Detroit. There’s quite a peach volume shipped to eastern Canada, too.
“We think there’s a big advantage especially right now in shipping from New Jersey given our proximity to those markets. We can pick, pack and ship peaches typically within 24 to 48 hours from the time they were picked, so we’re sending a fresher product in,” Beaver said.
Since it’s a sweet, decadent, “dessert-like” fruit, there is not a better eating peach than a New Jersey peach, he said.
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