Promotable California grape volume expected by mid-July
With hail in California’s San Joaquin Valley in late May, grape grower and shippers were estimating that they will not have promotable volume of summer grapes until the second half of July.
“Late” has been the buzzword for tables grapes this year with both Mexico and California Coachella’s Valley getting off to delayed starts. In recent years, early starts were commonplace with production even in April in several of those years. But this year May has come and gone and heavy grape volume has still not materialized. “Mexico was late, Coachella was late and San Joaquin Valley is late,” said Louie Galvan of Fruit Royale in Dinuba, CA. “It works when we are all late.”
He added that Mexico supposedly has a “massive crop” but he hasn’t seen it yet. “It’s May 23. We should have lots of (Mexican) fruit and we don’t.”
Galvan predicted that the San Joaquin Valley would have “some decent volume by the third week of July if Mother Nature cooperates.” But California’s Central Valley had just experienced a storm a few days earlier that included hail — in the valley in May. That is unusual — in fact, unheard of. Temperatures surpassing 100 degrees in May are not unheard of.
Brtett Dixon, president of Top Brass Marketing in Bakersfield, CA, also noted the cold weather but took an optimistic approach. “California had been blessed this winter with significant snow pack in the mountains. We hear that it is still snowing this week! It has been cooler than usual so we will have to keep our eye on the vineyards but we do not anticipate any issues.”
Top Brass is seeing the same thing in the vineyards as everyone else and is expecting a later start this year. “We anticipate the harvest to be a little later than last year by a week to 10 days. The weather here in the (San Joaquin) valley has been very atypical with rain and the weather being cooler than average. We do not see any adverse effects from the rain to the crop but we have an excellent farming department that will monitor the situation closely to make sure we get the quality of conventional and organic grapes that our customers have become accustomed to. We think that overall the crop size will be big coming out of the Central Valley.”
As veterans in the farming business, Top Brass sees opportunity in whatever comes its way. “As a fourth generation family grower we have a long term view of farming in California. We have been very good at running sustainable farms and improving our efficiencies year after year. It is always a challenge but one that we meet with enthusiasm and excitement.”
Jared Lane, vice president of marketing for Grapeman Farms, headquartered in Los Angeles but with vineyards in several California locations as well as out of the country, echoed the sentiments of others with regard to the start of the deal. “I think it will be July 10 before we get going. Everything is about seven days later than usual. The weather has been a lot colder than normal,” he said.
Though the San Joaquin Valley is behind schedule, Lane said Grapeman Farms will not experience any gaps in supply as all the deals are running a bit late. Both Coachella Valley and Mexico are expecting their respective supplies to last well into July, covering for the late start to California’s summer deal.