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Filling the Plates of the Eastern Seaboard

South Jersey local strengthens the market
MS_Eastern Seaboard

Seasonal Highlights
Nardelli Brothers is broadening its sweet corn operation to include “a few new proprietary varieties of white corn, which are great eating and popular in the Northeast,” shares Nardelli. The expansion will include greater involvement with packaging, starting with a new trade pack this season.

New Jersey is also well known for its high-quality peach and blueberry production, which Beaver says is “evidence of the years spent identifying the varieties most suitable for our unique growing conditions. While New Jerseyans are fanatical about their Jersey Fresh peaches and blueberries, our reputation of excellence extends far beyond our borders,” he points out, with consumers seeking and purchasing the Jersey Fresh label throughout New England and even extending into eastern Canada. Here’s a closer look at these two Jersey mainstays.

Fields of Blue
Mid-June is prime time for Jersey blueberries, which have a six- to eight-week season, according to Bob Von Rohr, director of marketing for Sunny Valley International, Inc. in Glassboro, who works with both conventional and organic blueberries from the state. The two main varieties, Duke and Bluecrop, are both high bush varieties and quite labor intensive as they are hand-picked during harvest.

Grower-shipper The Fresh Wave, LLC in Vineland has its eye on opening the market to a few late season varieties it’s been experimenting with, as well as adding acreage for organic blueberries “to take advantage of market trends,” according to vice president Tom Consalo.

For all the successes and high demand, however, blueberries haven’t gone untouched by weather variations in recent years, which Consalo says has “driven different cost patterns for domestic blues on both the East and West Coasts.” Because of Mother Nature’s unpredictability, Fresh Wave has diversified its “growing areas to combat weather events and keep consistent quality and supply.”

Just Peachy
With a season that runs from June to September, Jersey peaches are nurtured on 80 orchards encompassing 5,500 acres. Gloucester, Cumberland, Camden, Atlantic, and Salem counties of the state’s southern district are home to these orchards, with Gloucester leading the pack in number of trees. With over 100 varieties of yellow and white flesh peaches and nectarines grown in the state, Von Rohr says he “couldn’t even begin to name them all.” The state’s growers work in conjunction with Rutgers University on the development of new varieties as well as decision-making for which ones will replace older trees that no longer produce hearty yields.