In the land of fresh mar­ket sum­mer pro­duce, size does mat­ter. We can quan­tify cases by weights and by piece counts.

Cal­i­for­nia sum­mer stone fruits and mel­ons are poised to spoil con­sumers this sea­son. It’s impor­tant to know the value of size and how to pur­chase.

With an abun­dance of rain in most major grow­ing areas, we’re see­ing a larger-​size pro­file on early apri­cot, cherry, peach and nec­tarine har­vests. The plea­sure of eat­ing a nine or ten row cherry over, let’s say a twelve row, is super obvi­ous.

The row count, sim­ply put, is how many of the same sized cher­ries will fit lined up in a row across the car­ton. Nine across the box is a nine row cherry. Cher­ries mar­keted as “Nine Rows” mean that not more than 5 per­cent of the cher­ries may be smaller than 7564 of an inch. That is a very large bite of juicy cherry flesh.

Think of the visual impact of a large, plump cherry, glow­ing in gar­net, ver­sus a smaller, not even a mouth­ful (dare we say puny?) piece of fruit. Larger fruit implies higher qual­ity and typ­i­cally com­mands a higher price. Stone fruits like peaches and nec­tarines, will run the full gamut of sizes. Case weights reveal the net weight of the box. Fruit will be tray packed or vol­ume filled.

Counts run 48, 56, 64, 72, 80’s and smaller. The smaller the num­ber (48’s) the larger the fruit size.

Retail packs now offer a gus­seted sack or clamshell that allows shop­pers to grab and go a clear view tote of sum­mer fruit.

Water­mel­ons and vari­ety mel­ons bring us to a real sales and buy­ing oppor­tu­nity. Region­ally, mel­ons dif­fer by being sold by either weight or by the piece. Cal­i­for­nia prefers “by the each” pric­ing.

Farm­ers grow var­i­ous sizes and sup­ply is depen­dent on what’s in the pipeline. Mother Nature always has a role in size. There is more fruit to use in a nine count ver­sus twelve count can­taloupe. Per­ceived value of the extra large melon gets atten­tion.

Mini water­mel­ons are a per­fect fit for those who may not be able to eat or store a larger sized one. These petite gems typ­i­cally weigh between two and five pounds. They are eas­ier to lift and trans­port with the same great sum­mer fla­vor as their heftier cousins.

Pick the right size. Pro­mote. Eat. Enjoy!

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.