Did you miss the El Dorado County cherry season? It’s a long wait until next year’s crop, but you can survive the wait with the nectarines, peaches, pluots and plums now available in the county.
“We’ve had two hard years, so a good harvest is welcome,” said Lynn Wunderlich, UCD farm advisor. “This should be a good season with some beautiful fruit.” Wunderlich said that some harvests will be a little light. “We have a variety of microclimates in the county and with the bacterial blast and cold rainy weather during bloom, some of the trees are still recovering.”
There are many varieties of stone fruit to try, according to Wunderlich. “I’m looking forward to the O’Henrys and Alberta peaches, myself.”
Perhaps the biggest range of stone fruit variety comes from Goldbud Farms at 2501 Carson Road in Camino. Owner Ron Mansfield took out his cherry trees and filled in with additional stone fruit trees. He now has 30 acres in various locations throughout the county planted with about 16 varieties of plums and 12-13 varieties each of peaches and nectarines.
“My parcels are scattered from Gold Hill to Camino,” said Mansfield. “The most important aspect of the elevation change is the ability to spread out the harvest. Depending on the weather, I’ll be harvesting O’Henry peaches from Aug.25 all the way to Sept. 20 instead of just the normal two weeks of harvest.” He added, “We were lucky this year — Gold Hill had a big, normal crop and Camino had a moderate one, so we have lots of nice, large fruit.”
“We should have peaches and nectarines available until October,” said Victor Garcia, supervisor at Goldbud. “We have a lot of varieties that ripen at different times during the season.”
Available right now at Goldbud are Suncrest and Redtop peaches, Arctic Rose nectarines, Laroda and Black Amber plums.
“The Arctic Rose nectarines now available are our best seller for nectarines,” said Mansfield. “They are a white and yellow fleshed variety; pure sugar with a low acidity that emphasizes their sweetness. Around Aug. 5-10 our Red Gold nectarines will be available. They have a deep, intense flavor, a nice acid content and high sugar content.”
Fat, rosy peaches like the White Lady variety now hanging on the trees are a week or two from harvest, and varieties like the Heavenly White nectarines have a couple of more weeks.
“We let them hang as long as we can. O’Henry and CalRed are our most popular varieties of peaches,” said Garcia. “People like the O’Henrys because they are familiar with them and the CalReds have a bit of a butterscotch flavor.” In mid-September a special type of peach will be available. ”Our Indian Blood peaches in both white-fleshed and reddish fleshed varieties are available then and they have a raspberry flavor ” said Garcia, pointing to some green colored orbs.
Workers are busy packing peaches for shipping to East Coast and Bay Area markets. Goldbud stone fruit is available at the farm, open seven days a week from 10 a.m.. to 5 p.m., as well as online.
“About 10 percent of our harvest is sold at the farm store and 90 percent is wholesale to San Francisco and the East Coast,” said Mansfield. “We don’t do any farmers markets.
Jim Caldwell who runs the certified farmers markets in Placerville, Cameron Park, South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado Hills said this year’s peach harvest might be a little light, but the fruit looks good. “Suncrest and Delights are in the markets now and the Albertas and O’Henrys will be coming in August.”
Caldwell added that peaches in the valley are ready earlier, but El Dorado County is about two weeks later. “That means, with all the varieties we grow, we are one of the last places in the state to still have really good, premium peaches. Some of the freestone varieties will go through mid-October, depending on the year.”
Caldwell said mountain grown stone fruit has more sugar and nice, firm flesh. “Our soils drain faster than in the valley and the fruit has a finer texture.”
Hooverville Orchards at 1100 Wallace Road in Placerville is another place you will be able to pick up luscious peaches, plums and nectarines. Chris Hoover takes his produce to all the local farmers markets, but it can also be purchased at the Hooverville farm store, open seven days a week.
“We’ve had two rough years, but this year we have great crops,” said Connie Smith, jam maker at Hooverville. “It’s ready now.”
Whether you buy them at the farm stores or at farmers markets, El Dorado County peaches, nectarines and plums will satisfy your fruit cravings throughout the summer and well into Apple Hill season.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.