Stonefruit harvest reveals hail-damaged fruit
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Harvest is underway in some of the stone fruit orchards hit by last month's hailstorm.
Growers are finding a portion of their nectarine crop won't be marketable this year.
Sweet white flesh nectarines are now in season. Once they arrive from valley orchards they are washed, sorted, sized and packed at places like Family Tree Farms in Reedley.
But stone fruit production this year has taken a big hit because of last month's hailstorm. Daniel Jackson of Family Tree Farms explained, "From what we're hearing we think it's about 20-percent, which is significant because the revenue that's generated from tree fruit in the valley is enormous. It's hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars."
The hail hit the Traver area hardest. Some orchards in the storm's path sustained a total loss.
"April 11 is a day that will live in infamy for farmers 2012. One of the biggest storms we've seen. We're starting to pick in that region that got hit by that cloud."
Daniel Jackson is beginning to see hail damaged fruit show up at his packing house. "This is a pretty bad hailed out piece of fruit."
Nectarine, peach and plum orchards all got hit. But among the healthy looking pieces of fruit are these which must be culled.
"You can just see where it just kind of looks like the fruit got beat up by little marbles getting dropped off and that's exactly what happened."
Jackson said the rejected fruit will be sold as feed for dairy cows.
He added some orchards won't produce a profit for growers. "I can look at this and pretty much know he's going to lose forty to fifty percent to cullage. He's gonna have another 30 percent in a number two box, which isn't the premium box."
Jackson said global demand is strong for stone fruit but it remains to be seen if valley orchards will meet production needs this year.
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