Northwest apricots, peaches, nectarines slow to ripen

Aug 1, 2011

BASIN CITY, Wash. – Peaches, nectarines and apricots are some of the iconic delights of summer. But this year, Northwest apricots are at about half the usual production according to the Washington Fruit Commission. Peaches and nectarines are down too, about 10 percent. And they're all late.

Three Bucks Ranch is a massive peach orchard on a high bluff above the Columbia River outside of Basin City, Washington. There are miles of peach trees here.

It’s a gleaming, warm summer day. But all ranch owner John Douglas can see are the effects of winter.

"These are all dry branches that we have to take out," he says.

These branches would have fruited if not for a harsh winter freeze. As I look around, the trees are littered with these dead brown spikes. Some trees stand winter bare with just a few weak green shoots.

Douglas says he's still waiting for his peaches to ripen.

I ask him, "Are you eating a green peach?"

"Yeah, like I said we eat a lot of peaches here,' he responds.

Douglas says soon whole blocks of these trees are coming out. They're too damaged to be profitable.

Copyright 2011 Northwest Public Radio