Stemilt Growers, Washington’s largest apricot grower/shipper is set to begin harvest on its 2012 apricot crop later this month in central Washington. According to Stemilt marketing director Roger Pepperl, this year’s apricot crop will be second-to-none in regards to quality thanks to ideal weather during bloom and pollination.
“Apricots are the first trees to bloom in Washington state each spring and frost or late cold snaps are always concerning for growers. Fortunately, we had a warm spring this year and are expecting a clean, high-quality and large volume apricot crop as a result,” says Pepperl.
Stemilt expects to harvest and pack 250,000 cartons of apricots this year, which is up considerably from last year’s crop. Harvest will begin in mid-June and will run through the end of July, with the bulk of the crop coming from two varieties – Rival and Perfection – in early July.
Not only is Stemilt the state leader in apricot volume, but it also has a strong organic presence, allowing the company to differentiate its program at retail. Approximately 60 percent of Stemilt’s apricots are grown and certified as organic, while the remaining 40 percent are conventional. Stemilt markets organic apricots under its Artisan Organics label.
“Our apricots boast complex flavor profiles with balanced sugar-to-acid ratios. Natural farming techniques, like using compost as a nutrient-rich fertilizer, are used in our conventional and organic orchards in order to deliver high-quality fruit that is bound to impress consumers at stores this summer,” says Pepperl. “We’re fortunate to grow apricots in locales like the Tri Cities, Columbia Basin, and Wenatchee Valley that consistently produce quality fruit. Additionally, the geographic diversity of our apricot orchards allows us to continuously supply premium varieties of apricots to stores throughout the summer.”
To promote this year’s apricot crop, Stemilt has an array of packaging options and merchandising tools available to retailers, Pepperl noted. Stemilt can also provide retailers with a vibrant pop-up display bins and corresponding signage for in-and-out promotions. The display bins can hold two cartons of fruit or multiple bags and feature the Douglas family, who have grown apricots, peaches, and nectarines in Washington for four generations.