Stone fruit is coming in early, with extra flavor

Peaches from Blossom Bluff Orchard. Photo: Preston Gannaway, Special To The Chronicle

Peaches from Blossom Bluff Orchard. Photo: Preston Gannaway, Special To The Chronicle

Farmers’ markets are loaded with peaches and other stone fruit from up and down the state. Don’t wait around this year, however, because the season is a full two weeks early.

While the drought is hurting many stone fruit farmers, who are seeing both smaller harvests and smaller fruit, the early season is happening because of warm winter and spring temperatures that caused the trees to blossom early. That meant the fruit was ready for harvest early, as Joyce Goldstein points out in her preserving story.

“Everything’s coming in right now,” says Steve Kashiwase of Kashiwase Farm in Winton, about midway between Modesto and Merced. “This is what I’d normally have at the end of June.”

He has been cutting back on water use because local groundwater levels are going down quickly, but he has enough to water all his trees this season. Others haven’t been so lucky.

“The water situation is terrible,” says Ignacio Sanchez of Twin Girl Farms, who has 700 acres of fruit trees on different properties around Fresno and will have about one-third of his normal stone fruit harvest this year. “It’s just very difficult to obtain water, and if you can obtain it, it’s so darn expensive.” (read more)

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