Supported by one of the nation's most aggressive market promotion programs, New Jersey peach growers are expansion-minded. Santo John Maccherone, chair of the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council, says the council is seeing a renaissance in the peach industry with increased peach tree plantings.
Planting more trees is a healthy sign for our industry, says Maccherone. He ought to know. This spring, his Circle M Farms, at Salem, N.J., increased its plantings of yellow- and white-fleshed peaches and nectarines.
Large new plantings have taken root in Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland Counties. Among those growers planting new trees are Holtzhauser Farms and Heilig Orchards in Mullica Hill, Melick's Town Farm in Oldwick, Donaldson Farms in Hackettstown, and Terhune Orchards in Princeton.
"With a trend toward increased prices, there'll be a corresponding increase in tree planting," adds Maccherone. According to data collected by the New Jersey Agricultural Statistics Service, the 2012 season average price was 66-cents per pound – five cents pound higher than 2011.
Jerry Frecon, Rutgers professor emeritus and a former agricultural agent specializing in fruit, notes: "We see some definite positive changes in our peach industry, as acreage has recently increased to meet the demand for tree-ripened locally grown Jersey fresh peaches."
Many new plantings are designed to extend the season by a couple weeks both early and late, from late June through the end of September, according to Frecon. "Over the past 20 years, we've seen an increase in the types and varieties of peaches we can plant because of global warming.
"We just don't have the cold winters we used to. That means growers have to worry less about buds freezing. It also and allows for growing some high-quality bud-tender varieties. We can grow novel varieties, low-acid peaches and white and yellow- fleshed nectarines."