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Early stonefruit season hampers South African imports

Early stonefruit season hampers South African imports

The early start to this year’s stonefruit harvest in South Africa made for a lighter crop and smaller sizes this year. But shippers expect volumes will pick up going into 2015.

Harvesting of stone fruit in South Africa got off to a very early start this year, with picking getting underway as much as 3 weeks earlier than normal. The quick start to the season resulted in smaller sizes, so growers had trouble filling out boxes. Apricots, in particular, were not as plentiful as expected, so early estimates as to how much fruit would be picked and shipped were not met.

Plums and peaches
Plum volumes were also off, with fruit sets not going well in some areas. As with apricots, smaller sizes made it harder to fill out boxes and meet early volume estimates. Peaches recovered from early deficiencies in the season and peak volumes are currently coming out of South Africa. Sizing on peaches has also been good.

Nectarines
Nectarines have also fared well in terms of sizes, but variability in maturity and sugar content made it a challenge to choose the right fruit for export early in the season. In general, the nectarine crop is looking very promising, according to one South African exporter.

Quality of stonefruit
Despite challenges with sizing and volumes, quality of fruit has been good. Good weather throughout the growing season resulted in high sugar levels in most fruit. Good sugar content helps fruit store well, so shelf life should be good. While the early part of the stone fruit season was characterized by a shortage of fruit, the last week has brought increased volumes, and exporters hope those volumes will continue going into January.

Prices
A early shortage of fruit resulted in higher prices, but those prices are starting to come down now that volumes are filling out. One exporter was concerned with how quickly prices rose earlier in the year because the subsequent drop might also come very quickly. Pricing trends have been similar to those from the 2011 season, but returns have been better because of a more favorable exchange rate. Prices in the United Kingdom, in particular, have been good when compared to the rest of Europe. Sales in Europe this time of year are usually pretty sluggish, but shippers expect demand to pick up in January.

Flat varieties
A stone fruit variety that has drawn a lot of interest in Europe has been the flat peach. While the uptick in attention to the variety has made South African exporters take note, South African growers cannot plant the variety commercially for at least another three years because of quarantine regulations. But if interest in flat stone fruit persists, growers will likely plant and export the fruit to Europe in the future.

Middle and Far East
Volumes of stone fruit in the Middle East and Far East have been very good this year, but prices there have been under pressure and are currently trending downward. While South African exporters don’t ship most of their fruit to those markets, those areas remain important, so exporters are watching those markets closely.

Publication date: 12/24/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

California date harvest running one to two weeks early with good quality

“The crop is starting early this year,” said Lori Cooper,  manager of the California Date Administrative Committee in Indio, CA, in an interview with The Produce News Sept. 3. It is running anywhere from seven days to 14 days ahead of normal, “depending on where you are in the valley.”

The California Date Administrative Committee is a federal marketing order covering date growers in Riverside County, encompassing the date-growing regions of the Coachella Valley.07-DateNut-CalDateA California date palm. (Photo courtesy of California Date Administration Committee).

While there are about 30 varieties of dates grown in the valley, the two largest commercially grown varieties are Medjool and Deglet Noor.

The Medjool harvest, which normally starts about mid-September, was already under way, Cooper said. “Deglets normally start about the first couple of weeks in October, but there may actually be Deglets coming in the last week of September” and very likely by Oct. 5 this year.

“I have heard from a couple of handlers that the crop on the Deglets looks really good this year,” she said. “So far, they have been blessed by not receiving a lot of rain. That is always the culprit when it comes near to harvest.” So far this year, the rains have been holding off, she said. Growers “have been watching the weather forecast,” but none of the monsoons that often come in late summer have moved into the growing areas. “It has been humid, but we haven’t had any heavy rains so we are happy about that.”

Growers are welcoming the early start to the harvest this year. “They certainly need it,” Cooper said, “because the last two crops came in a little less than they anticipated … and they have pretty much depleted a lot of their inventories.”

For the last 10 or 15 years, the industry has been going through a process of old groves being taken out and new ones being planted, Cooper said. Total acreage has remained fairly constant at around 9,000 acres.

The mixture of new groves coming into production, old groves that are declining in production or being taken out of production and other acreage that is continuing in production makes estimating the crop size difficult, she said.

 As in the past, the date committee’s promotional activities are largely event oriented. “For the upcoming season, we are going to kick it off” with participation in the Produce Marketing Association expo in Anaheim, CA, on Oct. 17-19, she said. California Dates exhibited  at PMA in Anaheim two years ago, with Oliver Wolf, executive chef with J.W. Marriott Desert Springs  Resort & Spa in Desert Springs, CA, preparing date dishes at the booth for show attendees to sample.

This year, California Dates is exhibiting at a larger booth and bringing in a different chef — Eric Theiss, restaurant owner, on-air chef and cookbook publisher.

The date committee will be participating in several high profile local events in the Coachella Valley in 2015, beginning with a dates-and-wines event called “Open Your Heart” in collaboration with the American Heart Association, she said. About a week later, California Dates will again be participating in a “Go Red for Women” event sponsored by the American Heart Association.

In the middle of February, “we are back into the Date Festival again. That is where we have chefs every day that are creating dishes for the public to sample. We have done this now about eight years,” she added.

In April, the date committee will be participating in the California Dietetic Association conference “where we have an exhibit, give out samples and greet the dieticians,” Cooper said.

The California Date Committee has also increased its involvement in nutritional research of dates.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Early start, normal volume expected for Wonderful pomegranates

Field supervisors continue to anticipate normal volume but an early start for the Wonderful variety pomegranate. This popular variety accounts for more than 80 percent of the pomegranates shipped from California.

As of Sept. 2, orchards from Fresno south were still running a week early, with an anticipated start harvest date in the last week of September.

“The early varieties have moved smoothly into the distribution channels and the decks are now cleared for the Wonderful variety,” Jeff Simonian of Simonian Fruit said in a press release. “Retailers are finding strong demand for the early varieties, but there are still some retailers who hold heavy promotion until the Wonderfuls arrive.”

According to Tom Rouse of PomWonderful, the largest pomegranate grower in the world and an exclusive Wonderful shipper, said, “We like the larger size, high color and superior sugar found in this variety. We’ll start shipping the first week of October, with the harvest continuing until early November, if Mother Nature cooperates. We anticipate peaking on 22/30, but will be able to supply promotable quantities of all sizes.”

He added that “an increasing percentage of their shipments are going out in the very popular self shipper. The stand-alone unit provides incremental profit in previously unused floor space in the produce section, or near the check-out. Pomegranates are a high-impulse purchase item, so it’s important to put them in a high traffic location where shoppers can find them.”

“California is expected to harvest and ship more than 6 million fresh-market boxes of pomegranates this season,” Tom Tjerandsen, manager of the Sonoma, CA-based Pomegranate Council, added in the press release.

Tjerandsen said approximately 40 percent of California’s pomegranates are exported, principally to Canada, South Korea and Taiwan. Russia had been a rapidly growing market, but with the continuing help of the MAP program, other developing export markets will replace that volume.”

The foodservice industry continues to find new ways to use pomegranates. The new easy-to-use tray-packed or cup arils can be used to add color to salads, mixed drinks and all plate presentations. Patrons appreciate the addition of this exceptionally high-nutrition component.

Many new products are being launched with a pomegranate component. They range from nutritional supplements and juices, to skin care products. Continuing consumes and general efficacy testing will result in many more products that will take advantage of the rapidly growing popularity of pomegranates.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

2014/15 apple harvest starting early with good size and quality

Interview with VOG Director, Gerhard Dichgans:
2014/15 apple harvest starting early with good size and quality

Following the 2013/2014 season which, despite delays, still closed on time, the new harvest – 10 days earlier than last summer – is already knocking on the door. Everything points to a full harvest, not only in the Alps region and Italy, but also in Europe’s most high profile growing areas.

The Europe-wide harvest in the 28 EU member states will not reach the 12 million limit, but it is still the largest harvest in recent years. In Poland in particular, a record harvest exceeding 3.5 million t is expected which, in view of the import ban for Europe’s fruit imposed by Russia, represents the largest element of uncertainty in this spring marketing.

Mr Dichgans, before looking more closely at the present sales season, can you look back on the 2013/14 campaign?

The marketing of last year’s harvest started in 2013 with great optimism and high prices. However, remnants of the economic crisis over recent years and the resulting drop in consumption have generally limited spending on food, including fruit and vegetables, in particular apples in many of Europe’s core countries. This meant that de-stocking of the stored harvest was delayed month after month and was only completed at the end of June/early July for some of our main varieties including Braeburn, Granny or Red Delicious.

Now, at the start of the new 2014 harvest, only small stocks of Golden remain, but which have a firm customer base until mid-September and a clearly defined market, which we have also supplied in the past. With the arrival of the new Golden harvest, the stock from the previous harvest is then sold.

How is the new harvest in South Tyrol turning out?

The South Tyrol harvest is estimated at 1.2 m tons, so nearly 9% over the previous year’s figure. This represents an outstanding result for our region. But apart from this figure alone, which by itself is obviously worthy of a headline, we should remember that we have already reached this harvest volume – namely in 2011.
Cropping and fruit sizes are fine. To harvest the right fruit quality with the necessary storage characteristics, the harvesting guidelines for our growers were revised again this spring. I am assuming good quality for the 2014 harvest, also because hailstorms have only affected small areas up to now.

What should we expect in terms of price development?

There is already active demand for the first Gala, the overseas stocks for this variety having been practically cleared. The passage from imported goods to fresh European apple harvest therefore seems to be fairly smooth. The low price level, with which we are climbing out of the old marketing season, is obviously a strong incentive for a rapid transition for our customers. Sales pressure, which builds every year during the harvest weeks, is also a contributing factor for the season to get off to a buoyant start. I see this as the best prerequisite for clearing the expected harvest volumes on schedule and to head into calmer waters next year.

How will the Russian-imposed import ban on European food, including fruit and vegetables, affect the balance on the apple market?

It was foreseen that it would go beyond the initial import ban on Polish apples. However, this initial decision was to hit the Polish apple sector at its core because, for historical reasons, Russia is Poland’s largest market and therefore vital importing an annual 500,000 to 700,000 tons of Polish apples. If this situation lasts, it may lead to an imbalanced European apple market – even more with the bumper harvest expected in Europe. On the other hand, Russia has to replace the banned imports from Poland and Europe with imports from other regions. This may lead to supplies from China or – from next spring – purchases from the southern hemisphere. This means that these quantities will be withdrawn from other markets. All in all, this is a major global shift in the flow of goods, where winners and losers are not yet known. A conclusion can be drawn as of now, however: namely that there will be fewer and fewer apples from overseas on the European market and Europe will become increasingly self-sufficient.

What innovations can we expect in the new season?

Many new plantations of the last years will now come into crop. The Nicoter/Kanzi® and Scifresh/Jazz® varieties are making great progress in sales volumes with this harvest. Our leading priority this season is therefore to build up distribution of these two outstanding apple varieties. In addition, we will use INTERPOMA, to be held in Bozen in November, as an opportunity to officially present a world première of a new yellow-skinned variety, a wonderfully tasty, juicy and crunchy apple, a great addition to the current selection of varieties. I am unable to give any more details at the current point in time and I must ask you to be patient or meet me in South Tyrol in three months.

For more information:
Sabine Oberhollenzer
VOG           
Tel.: +39 0471-256722       
Email: [email protected]

Lorenzo Minin       
VOG   
Tel.: +39 059-7863894       
Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 8/19/2014


FreshPlaza.com

US (CA): Table grape season maintains early start

The early start to this year’s table grape season in California has continued this year as harvesting remains ahead of last year’s time-table. But with more than half of the season’s crop yet to be picked, there’s still much more season ahead.

“We’re about 12 to 14 days ahead of normal,” said George Matoian of Visalia Produce. “Movement has been good, and we’re shipping fruit at a record pace. We hope that continues through the season.” Crop estimates put this year’s production for the state in the neighbourhood of 117 million boxes, which would put in on par with last season’s production. The difference this year has been the speed with which the season has moved along.

“It’s been interesting to see weather patterns that are happening so early,” said Matoian. “We usually don’t see some of the weather things that are happening until mid-September, and they’re already starting to happen in August.” He noted that prices this year have been adequate, with prices ranging from $ 14.95 to $ 18.95 per box, depending on variety, size and quality.

“Demand is good,” said Matoian. “We’re in peak production for green seedless grapes, and in about 10 or 14 days we’ll have pretty heavy production for Scarlet Royal grapes, which are a big September variety.” A trend he noticed this year has been to move away from Thompson seedless and Crimson seedless grapes, as growers turn to newer varieties that have better yields and are less labour intensive.

“We’re probably having one of the earliest starts we’ve ever had, and we might see an upward trend on pricing at the end of the marketing season,” said Matoian. “Because the tree fruit deal might end early, we won’t be competing with tree fruit for market space, so we’ll have plenty of room to push and promote grapes.”

For more information:

George Matoian

Visalia Produce Sales

+1 559 897 6652

FreshPlaza.com

US: Northwest pear season kicks off early, less production expected

Like many summer crops in Pacific Coast states, the pear season in the Pacific Northwest began earlier than usual. The alternating nature of the crop also means that this year’s production will likely be less than what was harvested during last year’s big season.

Pears from the Pacific Northwest are usually harvested from July through October, though picking began a little earlier than normal. But that head start wasn’t huge, noted Cristie Mather, director of communications for Pear Burea Northwest, and the timing is in line with typical harvest timing. Production, however, is expected to be less than what was achieved last season.

“The dip in production is due to the natural cyclical nature of pear tree production,” explained Mather. “Crop yields alternate between larger crops and smaller crops each year. Last year was a larger crop year, so this year we can expect to see a smaller crop year. Next year we will be back into a larger crop yield.” Estimates put this year’s fresh pear production at 18.7 million 44-pound equivalent boxes, or 411,400 tons. That’s 13 percent smaller than last year’s crop and six percent smaller than the five-year production average for the region.

Demand this season is expected to build on the upward trend established over the past few years in both the domestic market and the export market.

“The 2013-2014 season will be the second consecutive season that total Northwest pear exports have surpassed the $ 200 million mark,” noted Jeff Correa, international marketing director for Pear Bureau Northwest. “The 2013-14 season will near the record established last season, but will most likely end up being the second highest export value season for the industry.” With nearly 42 percent of exports going to Mexico, Correa predicted that about 4.0 million boxes will reach that market this season. Canada will likely come in second with 2.1 million boxes, and Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Colombia, Brazil, India and China round out the list of export destinations. The latter market is of particular note, considering it was only fairly recently that Northwest growers were able to ship pears there.

“Northwest pear shippers sent a few containers initially after the opening of the market in January 2013, and the 2013-14 season was the first full season for Northwest pear shipments to the market, with 184,840 boxes shipped to China – substantially higher than our initial expectations,” said Correa. “While we expected China to emerge as one of the industry’s top Red Pear markets, it also emerged as a better than expected market for the Green Anjou variety as well. China ended this past season as the industry’s sixth largest Green Anjou export market, the second-largest Red Anjou export market and top export market for Starkrimson pears.”

For more information:

Cristie Mather

Pear Bureau Northwest

+1 503 652 9720

FreshPlaza.com

US (CA): Early start, strong prices for figs

Warm weather made for an early start to California’s fig harvest this year, with volumes coming early due to rapid maturation. Robust demand and good quality of fruit have also contributed to a strong market this year.

“Like many other crops, figs have matured early this year,” said Kevin Herman of The Specialty Crop Company in Madera, California. He estimated that this year’s harvest is about two weeks ahead of schedule, and while the early start meant early volumes this year, it will also likely mean an end to the season two weeks earlier than usual. In addition to an early start, the rate at which the season has progressed has been quick.

“The season has come on fast and furious,” said George Kragie of Western Fresh Marketing. “We started picking Calimyrna figs July 1, and that’s the earliest we’ve ever done that. The Calimyrna season also usually lasts four and a half weeks, but we were done this year with picking in three weeks.” Kragie pointed to a moderate winter with few complications as the reason for the quick and early nature of this year’s harvest. In terms of volume, he noted that production didn’t particularly stand out, but the quality of fruit being harvested this year has been exceptional.

“Sizing has been very good,” said Kragie. “We’ve had some very big fruit, so that gave us the opportunity to market some bigger sizes this year.” Good quality has contributed to strong prices, with Kragie estimating that, on average, prices are roughly 10 to 20 percent higher than they were last year. A full tray of Calimyrna figs is going for about $ 11 this year, he noted, while a full tray of Black Mission figs is going for about $ 14. Also contributing to those higher prices has been steadily increasing consumer demand.

“Demand has been so strong that we’re getting our figs in stores we weren’t in before, and it’s getting more people exposed to figs,” said Herman. “The market for dry figs is also helping with prices in the fresh market.” He explained that the pull from the dry fig market forces fresh buyers to match higher prices or risk losing product to the dry market.

As for the drought situation, which has all of the state’s growers worried, both Herman and Kragie noted that, though fig growers, like everyone else in the state, are hoping for an end to the drought, the nature of figs makes the situation a little more bearable for them.

“Fig trees require a lot less water than most other trees, so the drought has had a minimal impact on us this year,” said Herman. “But if it continues, it could cause problems. We just need more rainfall.”

FreshPlaza.com

New Mexico kicks off an early onion season

Onion production is ramping up for New Mexico’s 17 shippers. “Many of those are also growers, while other growers broker their onions,” said Katie Goetz, public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

Onion movement began early this year. “The shipping season started in mid-May this year and will run through late August for the most part, although some sheds will ship through mid-September,” she said.

Goetz said production is primarily concentrated in Doña Ana, Luna, and Sierra counties.onCropOverviewNew Mexico onion production is concentrated in Doña Ana, Luna, and Sierra counties. Good weather translated to an early start to the 2014 shipping season with initial supplies moving in mid-May. The season is expected to continue through mid-September. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Rojas/New Mexico State University)

“New Mexico onion growers produce mostly yellows, but there are some whites and some reds,” she said. “The major varieties of commercially grown New Mexico onions include Grano, Granex, Sweet Spanish and mid-summer hybrids such as the popular Nu-Mex variety.”

The majority of these onions are conventional.  

Weather conditions have been conducive to onion production. “We had mild temperatures in the fall and winter, and it’s been a warm spring — all good for yield and quality,” Goetz stated.

New Mexico onion producers primarily service the retail sector. “A few shippers also sell them through the foodservice and/or processing channels,” Goetz noted. Onions are sold throughout the United States and exported to Canada and Mexico.

Onions are among New Mexico’s top ten cash producing crops.

On June 13, the National Potato and Onion Report provided data about the 2014 New Mexico onion crop. Demand was described as moderate, and the market was reported as steady. Pricing for yellow Grano 50-pound sacks of super colossals was $ 11-12; colossals were $ 9-10; jumbos were $ 8-9; and mediums were $ 6-8.  Repack sizes were $ 5.50-7.

Fifty-pound sacks of jumbo white onions sold for $ 12-13, and mediums sold for $ 10-12. Twenty-five pound sacks of Red Globe jumbos sold for $ 7-8, and mediums sold for $ 5-7.

This past March, NASS issued its report, Vegetables 2013 Summary. According to the report, growers planted a total of 6,200 acres to summer non-storage onions in 2013, up 13 percent from 2012.

Growers harvested 6,100 acres in 2013, also up 13 percent from the previous crop year. The production level for 2013 was set at approximately 2.6 million hundredweight, down 8 percent from 2012. Yield per acre in 2013 was 430 hundredweight. The value of production in 2013 was $ 40.9 million.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

New Mexico kicks off an early onion season

Onion production is ramping up for New Mexico’s 17 shippers. “Many of those are also growers, while other growers broker their onions,” said Katie Goetz, public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

Onion movement began early this year. “The shipping season started in mid-May this year and will run through late August for the most part, although some sheds will ship through mid-September,” she said.

Goetz said production is primarily concentrated in Doña Ana, Luna, and Sierra counties.onCropOverviewNew Mexico onion production is concentrated in Doña Ana, Luna, and Sierra counties. Good weather translated to an early start to the 2014 shipping season with initial supplies moving in mid-May. The season is expected to continue through mid-September. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Rojas/New Mexico State University)

“New Mexico onion growers produce mostly yellows, but there are some whites and some reds,” she said. “The major varieties of commercially grown New Mexico onions include Grano, Granex, Sweet Spanish and mid-summer hybrids such as the popular Nu-Mex variety.”

The majority of these onions are conventional.  

Weather conditions have been conducive to onion production. “We had mild temperatures in the fall and winter, and it’s been a warm spring — all good for yield and quality,” Goetz stated.

New Mexico onion producers primarily service the retail sector. “A few shippers also sell them through the foodservice and/or processing channels,” Goetz noted. Onions are sold throughout the United States and exported to Canada and Mexico.

Onions are among New Mexico’s top ten cash producing crops.

On June 13, the National Potato and Onion Report provided data about the 2014 New Mexico onion crop. Demand was described as moderate, and the market was reported as steady. Pricing for yellow Grano 50-pound sacks of super colossals was $ 11-12; colossals were $ 9-10; jumbos were $ 8-9; and mediums were $ 6-8.  Repack sizes were $ 5.50-7.

Fifty-pound sacks of jumbo white onions sold for $ 12-13, and mediums sold for $ 10-12. Twenty-five pound sacks of Red Globe jumbos sold for $ 7-8, and mediums sold for $ 5-7.

This past March, NASS issued its report, Vegetables 2013 Summary. According to the report, growers planted a total of 6,200 acres to summer non-storage onions in 2013, up 13 percent from 2012.

Growers harvested 6,100 acres in 2013, also up 13 percent from the previous crop year. The production level for 2013 was set at approximately 2.6 million hundredweight, down 8 percent from 2012. Yield per acre in 2013 was 430 hundredweight. The value of production in 2013 was $ 40.9 million.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Oldest ever schistosomiasis egg found may be first proof of early human technology exacerbating disease burden

The discovery of a schistosomiasis parasite egg in a 6200-year-old grave at a prehistoric town by the Euphrates river in Syria may be the first evidence that agricultural irrigation systems in the Middle East contributed to disease burden, according to new Correspondence published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by several species of flatworm parasites that live in the blood vessels of the bladder and intestines. Infection can result in anemia, kidney failure, and bladder cancer. This research shows it may have been spread by the introduction of crop irrigation in ancient Mesopotamia, the region along the Tigris-Euphrates river system that covers parts of modern-day Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey.

According to one of the authors Dr Piers Mitchell, at the University of Cambridge, UK, the discovery might be among the oldest evidence of human-made technology inadvertently causing disease outbreaks.

“The individual who contracted the parasite might have done so through the use of irrigation systems that were starting to be introduced in Mesopotamia around 7500 years ago. The parasite spends part of its life cycle in snails that live in warm fresh water, before leaving the snail to burrow through the skin of people wading or swimming in the water. These irrigation systems distributed water to crops and may have triggered the beginning of the enormous disease burden that schistosomiasis has caused over the past 6000 years.”

The discovery at Tell Zeidan in Syria was made by an international team of archaeologists and biological anthropologists working at Cambridge (UK), The Cyprus Institute (Cyprus), and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute (USA). It shows that the parasite infected humans there at least a thousand years earlier than has been found in Egypt. The oldest Schistosomiasis egg found previously was in Egyptian mummies from 5200 years ago.

The egg was found in the pelvic area of the burial where the intestines and bladder would have been during life. Control soil samples from the head and foot areas of the grave contained no parasitic eggs, suggesting that the gravesite was not contaminated with the parasite more recently.

“Schistosomiasis has become progressively more common over time so that it causes a huge burden across the world today, with over 200 million people infected. It causes anemia which significantly decreases physical productivity in infected people, and may also cause bladder cancer. We would expect these consequences in ancient peoples to have had a significant impact upon early civilizations in the region,” says Dr Mitchell.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Lancet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Early start, smooth transition seen for San Joaquin Valley grapes

The spring grape deals out of Sonora, Mexico, and California’s Coachella Valley both got off to an early start this year and are expected to finish earlier than usual for most varieties, but grape shippers anticipate a smooth transition from those districts into the San Joaquin Valley as the early vineyards in the San Joaquin are also ahead of schedule.

“At this point, it looks like we will be starting in the San Joaquin  Valley sometime the week of June 16,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “Then we will be busy picking and packing probably into December, if the last two years are any indication, and shipping into February.”01-EarlySJV-CropThe 2014 California grape crop is forecast to total 116.5 million 19-pound boxes, which would edge out the previous record set in 2013. (Photo courtesy of the California Table Grape Commission)

One strength of the California table grape industry is “that it is such a long season,” said Nave. ”The fact that we started in Coachella Valley this year April 28 and will be picking grapes in California into December and shipping them into February is a tremendous strength in markets around the world.  So we need volume that begins in May and carries us all the way through that time period, because we have a lot of customers,” including retailers and foodservice operators around the world who want product on a consistent basis, and the more of that we can provide the better.”

For that reason, “it is critically important that we have fruit in the Coachella  Valley” in the spring “and that we have fruit in the San Joaquin Valley” early enough that there is “a seamless transition” from Coachella. That early San Joaquin Valley fruit carries from late spring into summer, “then that carries us into the fall, which carries us into the winter,” Nave said.

This year, “we are expecting that we will be picking fruit in the Coachella Valley into the end of June,” she said. “The San Joaquin Valley will start probably the third week” of June, and by the fourth week, “we should have a lot of people going in the San Joaquin Valley. That is a good transition from one valley to the other. But from my perspective, we have a California table grape crop, and that begins in May, and we ship the final boxes into February.”

The 2013 California fresh grape crop exceeded expectations and came in at a record 116.2 million 19-pound boxes. The 2014 crop is officially estimated at 116.5 million boxes, which, if realized, would just edge out last year’s record.

The earlier start to the California grape season this year is giving growers a longer time to market their crop, said John Harley, vice president of sales and marketing at Anthony Vineyards Inc. in Bakersfield, CA, which has grapes in the Coachella Valley as well as the San Joaquin Valley. “There is not a lot of pressure forcing movement, so the prices have been stable,” he said. “It has been good thus far, and I really do see that moving into the Arvin district as well.”

Several California shippers are also involved in the Sonora spring grape deal which roughly coincides, timing-wise, with the Coachella deal. Most Sonora grapes are grown in the Hermosillo area and the Caborca area. Hermosillo, the earlier of the two districts, is not only trending early this spring but is packing out lighter than anticipated. Caborca, the later district, appears to have a more normal sized crop. “We think that will have the effect,” at least on green grape varieties, of providing “steady supplies and a stable market. We think that will transition nicely,” said Shaun  Ricks, vice president of Eagle Eye Grape Guys LLC in Visalia, CA.

Caborca should continue picking through around June 15-20 on Sugraones, and Arvin, traditionally the earliest district in the San Joaquin Valley, will start about that same time. “We do not anticipate that there will be significant inventories of Sugraones out of Mexico, so that could be a very seamless transition,” Ricks said.

On red grapes, “because the Hermosillo district is lighter, it is not going to carry over a lot of fruit into June. Therefore, the [Mexican] Flame supplies for the month of June must all come from Caborca, and the demand will be greater than that. Therefore, we expect that the Flame market will increase in price every week as we go through the month of June.” That increase has already started and was noticeable as early as May 27, he said.

The Grape Guys anticipated its first Sugraones in Arvin close to June 16, with Flames starting around June 23, he said.

Ricks was confident that California grape producers would set another volume record this year and that within a few short years, volume would exceed 125 million boxes, with the shipping season continuing to extend. “We will, as an industry, be commonly shipping through January 15,” he said. Some years, the San Joaquin Valley may finish up earlier, but “that will be the exception.”

 Most years, “with the ability to cover the vineyards and the ability to pick and put in pick tubs and pack at a later time as needed, so that the fruit is as freshly packed as possible, are things that are going to allow us to go later than ever. If I were the Chileans and the Peruvians, I would take heed and not try to be early. I think there is still a place for them, but I think that place is beginning more in February, with maybe a trickle in January,” he said.

“We like where we are as an industry,” Ricks added. “I think we are in a good position. We just have to manage it and be good stewards and make sure that the product we are shipping out is suitable.”

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Early start, smooth transition seen for San Joaquin Valley grapes

The spring grape deals out of Sonora, Mexico, and California’s Coachella Valley both got off to an early start this year and are expected to finish earlier than usual for most varieties, but grape shippers anticipate a smooth transition from those districts into the San Joaquin Valley as the early vineyards in the San Joaquin are also ahead of schedule.

“At this point, it looks like we will be starting in the San Joaquin  Valley sometime the week of June 16,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “Then we will be busy picking and packing probably into December, if the last two years are any indication, and shipping into February.”01-EarlySJV-CropThe 2014 California grape crop is forecast to total 116.5 million 19-pound boxes, which would edge out the previous record set in 2013. (Photo courtesy of the California Table Grape Commission)

One strength of the California table grape industry is “that it is such a long season,” said Nave. ”The fact that we started in Coachella Valley this year April 28 and will be picking grapes in California into December and shipping them into February is a tremendous strength in markets around the world.  So we need volume that begins in May and carries us all the way through that time period, because we have a lot of customers,” including retailers and foodservice operators around the world who want product on a consistent basis, and the more of that we can provide the better.”

For that reason, “it is critically important that we have fruit in the Coachella  Valley” in the spring “and that we have fruit in the San Joaquin Valley” early enough that there is “a seamless transition” from Coachella. That early San Joaquin Valley fruit carries from late spring into summer, “then that carries us into the fall, which carries us into the winter,” Nave said.

This year, “we are expecting that we will be picking fruit in the Coachella Valley into the end of June,” she said. “The San Joaquin Valley will start probably the third week” of June, and by the fourth week, “we should have a lot of people going in the San Joaquin Valley. That is a good transition from one valley to the other. But from my perspective, we have a California table grape crop, and that begins in May, and we ship the final boxes into February.”

The 2013 California fresh grape crop exceeded expectations and came in at a record 116.2 million 19-pound boxes. The 2014 crop is officially estimated at 116.5 million boxes, which, if realized, would just edge out last year’s record.

The earlier start to the California grape season this year is giving growers a longer time to market their crop, said John Harley, vice president of sales and marketing at Anthony Vineyards Inc. in Bakersfield, CA, which has grapes in the Coachella Valley as well as the San Joaquin Valley. “There is not a lot of pressure forcing movement, so the prices have been stable,” he said. “It has been good thus far, and I really do see that moving into the Arvin district as well.”

Several California shippers are also involved in the Sonora spring grape deal which roughly coincides, timing-wise, with the Coachella deal. Most Sonora grapes are grown in the Hermosillo area and the Caborca area. Hermosillo, the earlier of the two districts, is not only trending early this spring but is packing out lighter than anticipated. Caborca, the later district, appears to have a more normal sized crop. “We think that will have the effect,” at least on green grape varieties, of providing “steady supplies and a stable market. We think that will transition nicely,” said Shaun  Ricks, vice president of Eagle Eye Grape Guys LLC in Visalia, CA.

Caborca should continue picking through around June 15-20 on Sugraones, and Arvin, traditionally the earliest district in the San Joaquin Valley, will start about that same time. “We do not anticipate that there will be significant inventories of Sugraones out of Mexico, so that could be a very seamless transition,” Ricks said.

On red grapes, “because the Hermosillo district is lighter, it is not going to carry over a lot of fruit into June. Therefore, the [Mexican] Flame supplies for the month of June must all come from Caborca, and the demand will be greater than that. Therefore, we expect that the Flame market will increase in price every week as we go through the month of June.” That increase has already started and was noticeable as early as May 27, he said.

The Grape Guys anticipated its first Sugraones in Arvin close to June 16, with Flames starting around June 23, he said.

Ricks was confident that California grape producers would set another volume record this year and that within a few short years, volume would exceed 125 million boxes, with the shipping season continuing to extend. “We will, as an industry, be commonly shipping through January 15,” he said. Some years, the San Joaquin Valley may finish up earlier, but “that will be the exception.”

 Most years, “with the ability to cover the vineyards and the ability to pick and put in pick tubs and pack at a later time as needed, so that the fruit is as freshly packed as possible, are things that are going to allow us to go later than ever. If I were the Chileans and the Peruvians, I would take heed and not try to be early. I think there is still a place for them, but I think that place is beginning more in February, with maybe a trickle in January,” he said.

“We like where we are as an industry,” Ricks added. “I think we are in a good position. We just have to manage it and be good stewards and make sure that the product we are shipping out is suitable.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.