Stone fruit season is now underway, and as we found out from our last retail store visits, most local retailers are now stocking light supplies of nectarines, apricots, peaches, and plums. Experts note that the weather in California’s San Joaquin Valley has been great for production, but the start of the season has been slow. The wet winter coupled with many cold nights has fueled predictions that the 2017 season will be great. Harvesting started slowly and is still not up to full speed, but is set to ramp up in the next couple of weeks, just in time for the 4th of July holiday. The overall peak size being packed is in the larger end of the spectrum for most varieties. So, with the season kicking off, let’s review some key points:

Popular Stone Fruits:

  • Nectarines – common varieties are Flamekist, Fantasia, May Grand and Fairlane. They are available from California and Washington from June to September. Nectarines are shipped in tray pack, 22 to 25 lb. lug or carton.
  • Apricots – common varieties include Castlebrit, Patterson, Katy, Blenheim, Tilton, Improved Flaming Gold, Derby, Modesto, Tracy and Westley. They are available from California and Washington from May to August. Apricots are typically shipped in volume filled 24lb. lugs, cartons & boxes, and tray packs.
  • Peaches – the two varieties available are Clingstone and Freestone, with Freestone being more popular. They are available from various states from April to October. Peaches are commonly shipped via 22 lb. lug or carton, 18 lb. box, 1/2 bushel crate and 3/4 bushel crate.
  • Plums – common varieties are red and yellow Japanese. They are available domestically from various states from May to October. They are commonly shipped via 28lb cartons.

Good Arrival Standards

The table below shows the good arrival standards and tolerances at destination for all products at US grade No. 1:

Product Total Defects Serious Defects Decay upon arrival at contract destination after 5 days in transit
Nectarines 12% 6% (includes 4% permanent) 2%
Apricots 15% 8% 3%
Peaches 15% 8% 5%
Plums 15% 8% 3%

Loading Guidelines

All types and varieties of stone fruits are ethylene producers, and ice contact is not recommended. Since they all are shipped at near freezing temperatures, freezing injury can commonly occur (water soaked, translucent appearance of the skin and/or flesh). Below, the recommended transit temperatures and freezing points:

Product Recommended Transit Temperature Freezing Point
Nectarines 32F-34F 30.4F
Apricots 32F 31.1F
Peaches 32F-34F 30.4F
Plums 32F 30F

As with any produce item, drivers must follow these basic loading guidelines:

  • Drivers MUST have a pulp thermometer and a camera phone. Drivers MUST PULP, and it is recommended to take pictures of any potential issues and send them to UWT.
  • Driver MUST call UWT right away before leaving the warehouse to communicate pulp temperatures/confirm we received pictures (if sent) and confirm they are ok to leave. If pulps are out of range, the driver must wait until they are given permission to release the truck by UWT’s Customer.
  • The temperature of the shipment will be determined by the UWT/Customer unless otherwise notified.  All temperatures MUST be set as CONTINUOUS NOT CYCLE-SENTRY.
  • If a temperature recording device (temptale) is placed on the truck; it must be turned on and placement should be 2 pallets in from the tail of the trailer.

So, with 2017 projected to be an epic stone fruit season, and we will be keeping an eye out for how all varieties are doing at our next monthly store visits. Stay tuned!

Stone Fruit Season – The 4 Popular Varieties, Good Arrival Standards, and Loading Guidelines You Need to Know was last modified: by