(GLASSBORO, NJ) ― Want to pick some nice juicy New Jersey peaches right off the tree? Or maybe you’d prefer to buy them already picked from a farmstand, farmers market or supermarket? Whatever your choice, they’re now ready for you.
The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council (NJPPC) has polled growers and packing houses throughout the state on the ‘state’ of their peaches, and the consensus is that this is one of the best seasons. “The consistently cold winter and bloom-season cool temperatures gave the fruit plenty of time to set up,” says Santo Maccherone, NJPPC president and grower of white and yellow fleshed peaches and nectarines on his Circle M Farms near Salem. “Of course, peach harvest starts in south Jersey about a week or so ahead of the season in north Jersey,” he continues. “Yellow- and white fleshed peaches are now available in some southern NJ orchards, and will be followed by yellow and white-fleshed nectarines. But bear in mind, that the varieties generally overlap each other throughout the rest of the season until early September.”
According to Bob Von Rohr, marketing director of Sunny Valley International in Glassboro, the New Jersey peach crop overall looks very good. “Mother Nature has been good to our peach growers so far. Good winter chill and plenty of moisture created a nice full crop for this season. Yellow-flesh peaches will be in full production by the week of July 13th. White peaches start the last week in July or first week in August and run thru to mid-September. Yellow Nectarines start in the beginning of August.” Sunny Valley is the exclusive sales and marketing agent for the “Jersey Fruit CO-Op” and “Just Picked” labels, in combination making Sunny Valley Int. the largest shipper of NJ stone fruit in the state. Donio, Inc in Hammonton also is packing a good, full crop of peaches, under the Top Crop brand.
The season is in full swing in south Jersey. “We are looking at a good peach crop, based on what we saw during bloom.” says Dr. Lewis DeEugenio Jr., owner of Summit City Farms and president of the Jersey Fruit Marketing Cooperative in Glassboro. Jersey Fruit, one of the larger New Jersey peach marketers, is noted for its bright pink-flowered bloom box often seen in local super markets. Summit City’s fruit is packed by Eastern Propak in Glassboro and marketed by Sunny Valley under the Jersey Fruit label.
“I have a great crop of peaches,” says Tom Holtzhauser Jr of Holtzhauser Farms in Mullica Hill. Holzhauser. sells yellow and white fleshed peaches both retail and wholesale out of his own packing house. He also specializes in Saturn the white-fleshed doughnut peach.
In central Jersey, peach season starts the second week of July at Terhune Orchards in Princeton. “We have semi-freestone then yellow-flesh freestone, followed by white-flesh and doughnuts (flat) in mid-season, says Pam Mount, owner operator. “Our trees are picked several times, so different varieties overlap.” Terhune celebrates peach season in a big way with an Everything Peachy Festival, Saturday and Sunday August 1st and 2nd. They offer tractor rides through the orchards, live country music and barbecues. The Summer Harvest Tasting features chefs from all over the state demonstrating their peach recipes – with sampling included. Check the website www.terhuneorchards.com for specifics.
The town of Chester in north Jersey overflows with peaches the first weekend in August. Alstede puts on a big Peach Festival — due to its popularity extended this year to August 1st and 2nd, 8th and 9th, 15th and 16th under the Peach Festival Tent, featuring Alstede’s homemade peach cake, peach tea slushies, peach pies and peach ice cream—all with peaches from the orchard. There will be themed live music on Saturdays and Sundays, and Sunday August 2nd is a peach pancake breakfast. Check the website www.alstedefarms.com for specifics. Alstede Farms’ peach season gets underway in mid-July, “depending on weather, of course,” says Kurt Alstede, owner-operator. “The first to ripen are yellow clingstones, followed by yellow and white freestones.” Community Presbyterian Church holds its annual Peach Festival and Country Auction Saturday, August 1st, featuring peach pies, peach kuchen and homemade peach ice cream along with many other peach desserts for sale.
John Melick, owner of Melick Town Farms in Califon, says, “We have a good, full crop and are starting to pick white and yellow fleshed peaches this week. We also grow white and yellow nectarines, another full crop this year and they’re sizing well.” Visitors to Melick’s can pick their own peaches or buy them fresh-picked at the farm store. “We have over 5,000 peach trees, and grow over 30 varieties of both yellow and white peaches, which make a long season for your selection,” Melick continues. “Our trees are low enough that you can reach even those beauties sitting in the sun near the top of the tree, and we know that once you bite into our tree ripened fruit, you will be back soon to pick again!”
The New Jersey Peach Promotion Council Buyers Guide lists names and contact information of growers, distributors, and direct-to-consumer sellers. The information can also be found on the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council website at www.jerseypeaches.com