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The season is ripe for Sunny Valley peaches

Sunny Valley International is expecting an excellent crop of New Jersey peaches for this summer.

“To date, all is looking to be a good, normal size crop,” Robert Von Rohr, director of customer relations at Glassboro, N.J.-based Sunny Valley International told The Produce News. “Project start date should be sometime the last week in June, which is about five to seven days earlier than a normal season,” he said, noting that the season will run through mid-September, as usual.

Sunny Valley represents four South Jersey family owned peach farms — Larchmont Farms in Deerfield, N.J.; Heilig Orchards in Mullica Hill, N.J.; Summit City Farms & Winery in Glassboro; and Gala Orchards in Elmer, N.J. As their sales and marketing agent, Sunny Valley International markets their fruit under the Jersey Fruit and Just Picked labels.

SV-caption-1 The total acreage of the four farms is approximately 1,800 acres, with the largest — Larchmont Farms — farming some 800 acres.

“Larchmont was incorporated in 1769, and the current owners are 11th generation farmers, keeping family ties and experience as the forefront of the business,” Von Rohr noted. “Larchmont is dedicated to sustainability; in 2010 the entire farm was converted to solar power and all the lights on the farm were converted to LED bulbs in order to reduce energy use and the amount of gas and sulfur dioxide released into the environment. In a further effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the farm, Larchmont uses geothermal heating and cooling.”

As a result, Sunny Valley uses two packing houses and shipping locations: Larchmont Farms and Eastern Propak LLC in Glassboro.

“We pack into high graphic 25-pound volume-filled boxes, as well as single layer trays, two-layer Panta Packs and 2-pound zip lock bags,” Von Rohr said. “We also have the capacity to pack various sizes to meet customer demand.”

In addition to yellow peaches, the farmers also grow white peaches and yellow nectarines, which are also marketed under the Jersey Fruit and Just Picked brands.

Von Rohr noted Jersey Fruit and Just Picked peaches and nectarines are favored by retailers, wholesalers and foodservice professionals because of their superior quality compared to some other imported and domestic fruit.

“Our growers are within close proximity to some of the nation’s most densely populated areas — Philadelphia, New York City, Boston and Washington, DC,” he said. “Since they are all within a 12-hour ride, we can pick our peaches at a higher maturity level to ensure a better eating piece of fruit. This makes us an ideal shipper for fresh product since the fruit spends less time in storage and transit. And less time in transit means less carbon footprint,” he said.

In addition to the Northeast Corridor, Sunny Valley ships its peaches as far south as Florida, west to the Mississippi River and north into Canada.

Von Rohr noted that the growers continuously work closely with Rutgers University to improve yield and stay abreast of new varieties.

Meanwhile, Sunny Valley International is fully committed to providing safe, quality produce for its customers. “Food safety is considered to be an integral part of our business. We require all our suppliers to participate in third party food safety audits that meet GFSI requirements, and work closely with each supplier to develop, implement and improve their food safety programs,” Von Rohr said.