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Valley farmers are pulling out peaches

Cling peaches.
Low production, low prices and labor issues are plaguing the California cling peach industry and prompting farmers to pull out their orchards in favor of growing something that carries less risk, reported Joshua Emerson Smith in the Merced Sun-Star.

Many environmental factors can significantly compromise a peach harvest, said Maxwell Norton, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Merced County.

"For tree fruit you need to have a greater net profit than you do raising tree nuts because growing tree fruit is so much more risky," he said. "The biggest risk of all is not being able to find enough labor during harvest. Peaches, when they're ripe, you have very few days to harvest."

In the Northern San Joaquin Valley, including Merced and Stanislaus counties, about 8.2 percent of bearing acres for clingstone peaches, or 667 acres, have been pulled out of production this fall, the article said.

Because trees are being pulled out, processors are beginning to increase the price they are offering.

Delhi farmer Glenn Arnold said he's clinging to peaches for now.

"I was happy when I heard the price because it's a fair price," he said. "A hail storm can take your whole crop in two minutes. If you don't get compensated adequately for the risk, you might switch to an alternative."

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Posted on Friday, December 21, 2012 at 10:33 AM
Tags: cling peaches (3), Maxwell Norton (11), peaches (18)

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