Stemilt Growers' Brianna Shales Talks Stonefruit Season
WENATCHEE, WA - Perhaps the fruit most synonymous with summertime, biting into a peach transports you straight to a sun-soaked day. I chatted with Brianna Shales, Communications Manager at Stemilt Growers, to find out a little bit more about this stonefruit’s season.
“Our season is just getting started,” Brianna begins. “We started harvest a few weeks ago, and it takes a little bit of time for that to ramp up. August and September are going to be really big months for peaches and nectarines.”
Stemilt has been farming peaches and nectarines organically since 2009—through its Artisan Organics™ program—which Brianna tells me is what makes the company stand apart from the pack.
“The big why behind farming organic is that we see it as a way to differentiate ourselves from other growing regions, but also because the flavors that organic produces are simply fantastic,” Brianna explains. “We’re lucky that we grow in an arid climate that has dry, warm days—which peaches and nectarines love—and this allows us to flourish and farm organically.”
Growing a mix of varieties on small orchard blocks, Stemilt ensures that the peaches and nectarines have ripened on the tree before they’re picked: tree-ripened being the key to delivering this fruit’s flavor and juices.
“We’re going in multiple times to pick—four to five times—and making sure they come off the tree at just the right moment. This allows Stemilt to deliver high-quality, organic, tree-ripened fruit,” Brianna says.
Stemilt grows a number of peach and nectarine varieties—too many to name but all with classic high sugars that are balanced out by acidity. This balance between the two, Brianna tells me, is what gives a peach or nectarine its true flavor. Apart from the flavor profile, Stemilt is known for its ‘softball-sized’ stonefruit, which, Brianna shares, is how retailers can capitalize on late-summer promotions.
“This time of year, the big focus is going to be providing large peaches and nectarines. We have big fruit,” she says, laughing. “Retailers can get in on bulk-sized peach and nectarine promotions and run them throughout August and September. It’s important to hone in on the fact that these stonefruits are organic. Besides being a growing category, people are looking for that last little bit of summer, and Artisan Organics summer fruits deliver on that.”
For a girl hoping to cling to any last bit of summer she can, I’ll be stocking up on flavorful, Stemilt peaches.