Big California tree fruit crops headed to market

The marketing committees of the California Tree Fruit Agreement have estimated a crop of 58.4 million packages, only 2 percent less than last year’s record of almost 60 million packages.

The drop in crop is a result of tree pullouts and a lighter set of mid and late season varieties. Early season varieties are expected to match last year’s production, according to the tree fruit agreement field staff.

Here’s a breakdown of what the various marketing committees say will go to market this season:

--Almost 15.1 million 28-pound packages of plums, close to the 14.3 million units sold this year. This year’s estimate includes 500,000 packages of Plucots, which can now be sold and marketed as plums.

--21.3 million 25-pound packages of peaches. Last year record crop was 22 million packages. Summerwhite peach varieties are expected to account for 4.65 million packages of this year crop. This compares to 4.3 million last season.

--The 2003 nectarine crop estimate of 22 million 25-pound packages is down from the 23.3 million marketed last season. White meat nectarines will account for 4.9 million of the projected 2003 packages, slightly less than the 5 million shipped last season.

The cool and often stormy spring weather slowed the crop a bit, but hail damage was minimal, according to the tree fruit agreement field staff.

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