Peachy Outlook for N.J. Peach Crop

TRENTON, N.J. -- It's going to be a peachy keen autumn for peach lovers, but produce department managers might have to do some juggling to fit them into that section.

New Jersey farmers are looking at a bumper crop of peaches. The only problem is that the crop peaked too late because of the weather, and state officials fear consumers will have a hankering for apples, pears, and other fall fruits. As a result, the state has begun running ads in area newspapers reminding consumers that peaches will be available through September this year.

State officials said the school lunch program will be getting 2,000 cases, and the Corrections Department has agreed to buy 5,000 cases, enough to make peaches the state's second-largest cash crop. U.S. Senator John Corzine, D-NJ, also plans to ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture to buy Jersey peaches for inclusion in school lunches.

New Jersey grows about 80 million pounds of peaches annually, ranking it fourth behind California, South Carolina, and Georgia. Only blueberries are a bigger produce commodity in the Garden State. New Jersey peaches are shipped to markets as far away as Florida and Quebec.
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