All grades require the peaches in a lot to be all of the same variety, mature but not soft or overripe, free from decay, cuts which are not healed, worms and worm holes.
“U.S. Fancy” peaches are well formed and free from bacterial spot, growth cracks, hail injury, scab, scale, split pits, leaf or limb rub injury; and free from damage caused by bruises, dirt or other foreign material, other disease, insects or mechanical or other means. Not less than one-third of the surface of at least 90% of the peaches will show blushed, pink or red color.
“U.S. Extra No. 1” peaches meet the U.S. No. 1 requirements, but with an additional color requirement: “50 percent, by count, of the peaches in any lot shall have not less than one-fourth of the surface showing blushed, pink or red color.”
“U.S. No. 1” peaches are well formed. They are free from growth cracks, and from damage caused by bruises, dirt, or other foreign material, bacterial spot, scab, scale, hail injury, leaf or limb rubs, split pits, other disease, insects or mechanical or other means.
“U.S. No. 2” peaches are only “not badly misshapen.” They are free from “serious damage caused by bruises, dirt or other foreign material, bacterial spot, scab, scale, growth cracks, hail injury, leaf or limb rubs, split pits, other disease, insects, or mechanical or other means.” Note the qualifier “serious,” in contrast to the higher grades.
|U.S. Extra No. 1 and U.S. No. 1
what constitutes “damage”
|U.S. No. 2
what constitutes “serious damage”
|Bacterial spot||when cracked OR aggregating more than 3/8 inch in diameter||any crack not well healed OR when aggregating more than ¾ inch in diameter|
|Scab spots||when cracked OR aggregating more than 3/8 inch in diameter||when cracked OR when healed and aggregating more than 1 inch in diameter|
|Scale||when concentrated OR when scattered and aggregating more than ¼ inch in diameter||when aggregating more than ½ inch in diameter|
|Hail injury||unhealed or deep OR aggregating more than ¼ inch in diameter||unhealed OR shallow hail injury aggregating more than ¾ inch in diameter OR deep hail injury which seriously deforms the fruit or aggregates more than ½ inch in diameter.|
|Leaf or limb rubs||when not smooth or when not light colored OR when aggregating more than ½ inch in diameter||when smooth and light colored and aggregating more than 1½ inches in diameter OR dark or slightly rough and barklike scars aggregating more than ¾ inch in diameter.|
|Split pit||when causing any unhealed crack OR when causing any crack which is readily apparent OR when affecting shape to the extent that the fruit is not well formed.||when causing any unhealed crack OR when healed and aggregating more than ½ inch in length including any part of the crack which may be covered by the stem.|
The permitted tolerances are rather large. For color, 10% of the peaches in a U.S. Fancy lot may fail to meet the color requirements of the grade, while for the U.S. Extra No. 1 grade, not less than 40% of the peaches in an individual package need meet the grade's color standard, providing the entire lot averages 50%. Similar allowances are provided for defects. At the shipping point, 10% of the peaches may fail to meet those grade requirements, although no more than 1% may be affected by decay, and, for the Fancy and No. 1 grades, no more than 5% by "serious damage." En route or at the destination, 14% of the peaches may fail to meet their grade requirements, but no more than 10% may have permanent defects, no more than 7% serious damage, no more than 5% "serious damage by permanent defects", with not more than 2% affected by decay.
A package of peaches must be marked either with the number of peaches it contains, or with a minimum diameter in whole inches or in whole inches and half, quarter or eighth inches. The maximum diameter may also be stated. In any lot, not more than 10% by count of the peaches may be below the specified minimum, and not more than 15% larger than the specified maximum.
The packing of peaches is also regulated. For example, a package of loose peaches must ve filled to wihin one inch of the top of the container.
In the United States, peaches were traditionally sold in 38-pound boxes. By the mid-1990’s, growers in California had switched to 25-pound boxes that offered better cushioning for the fruit, and southeastern growers were in the process of converting.
The above requirements are simple compared to the federal standards for California peaches, which distinguishs dozens of varieties. These are too detailed and voluminous to treat here; they can be seen at www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/7/917.459
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service.
United States Standards for Grades of Peaches. Effective May 21, 2004.
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Last revised: 17 October 2013.