US demand for stone fruits has been con­sis­tent but not grow­ing much in the past five years.

The 2020 sea­son looks to improve demand with a longer sea­son and even some new vari­etals on the hori­zon.

Exclu­sive nec­tarine and plum vari­eties grown in California’s Cen­tral and San Joaquin Val­leys have farm­ers excited about this year’s pro­duc­tion.

The oppor­tu­nity is there to intro­duce stone fruits to new and next gen­er­a­tions. An empha­sis on fresh foods and ver­sa­til­ity in use can bring a new audi­ence to the table.

Stone fruits are a type of drupe, thin-​skinned, fleshy fruits con­tain­ing a sin­gle large seed (hence the name stone) encased within a tough outer shell. They can be cling­stone or free­stone, fuzzy or smooth, sour or sweet.

The dru­pes we call stone fruit come from about 15 species of the genus Prunus, a mem­ber of the rose fam­ily, and include peaches, nec­tarines, plums, apri­cots and cher­ries.

Stone fruits are highly sea­sonal. Most vari­eties won’t ripen after they’re har­vested and are picked at their peak of ripeness or readi­ness. This is often a small win­dow for har­vest crews.

Luck­ily, dif­fer­ent vari­eties ripen at dif­fer­ent times. Cher­ries and apri­cots start the late spring parade. By early sum­mer, peaches, nec­tarines and plums begin to show up.

Dif­fer­ent vari­eties con­tinue through­out sum­mer. By end of sum­mer and in to fall late plums (prunes) and plu­ots sig­nal the end of sea­son.

Stone fruits are a sweet, sum­mery addi­tion to sal­ads or grilling sides. Encour­age con­sumers to add peaches, nec­tarines, plums, and apri­cots not just to fruit sal­ads but to green sal­ads as well.

The appeal of stone fruits goes beyond age lim­i­ta­tions. An easy hand fruit, keep the fresh fruit bowl avail­able for snacks and a fin­ish to day­time lunch. Por­tion con­trol is built in to every vari­ety.

Sum­mer activ­i­ties rev up along with our abil­ity to burn calo­ries. This year, we’ll make good use of bicy­cles, walk­ing trails and swim­ming pools. Phys­i­cal activ­i­ties make a peach pie, nec­tarine galette or plum cob­bler seem like a real reward.

Cap­ture the essence of sum­mer in just one bite. Sweet treats and fresh juicy fruits are a bet­ter alter­na­tive than sug­ary or syrupy desserts.

Peaches, nec­tarines, apri­cots, plums and their hybrids are best ripened at room tem­per­a­ture, stem end down. It’s best not to refrig­er­ate fruit before it’s ripe, or it may develop unap­pe­tiz­ing wrin­kled skin and mealy flesh.

Ripe fruit is soft to the touch with a sweet aroma. It can be stored in the refrig­er­a­tor for a few days. That’s if fam­ily mem­bers resist the temp­ta­tion to dive in to the local fla­vors of summer.

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.