Coachella Valley expects to start table grapes production in mid-May. The San Joaquin Valley could start as soon as late June.
Stone fruit returns to normal
Stone fruit growers in some pockets of the San Joaquin Valley suffered up to 90% losses last year from weather damage. The early consensus on pack-out this season is from 40 million to 43 million boxes, close to what it’s been most of the past five years.
“It’s looking like a good, solid crop but not an overabundant crop — kind of a return to normal,” said Don Goforth, director of marketing for Reedley, Calif.-based Family Tree Farms Inc.
West Coast retailers should see stone fruit from the southern San Joaquin Valley arriving in early May and higher volumes before Memorial Day, said John Thiesen, division manager of Giumarra Bros. Fruit Co. Inc., Reedley, Calif.
Cherries should hit the market in time for Memorial Day, a holiday they’ve missed for the past three years, said Chance Kirk, director of retail and foodservice sales for Vincent B. Zaninovich & Sons Inc., Richgrove, Calif.
He based his projection on conditions in late March.
Berries looking good
The Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission reported a 6.5% acreage increase in strawberries — most of it in Ventura County and Santa Maria.
There’s no crop estimate on strawberries, which are continuously blooming. But by April, Orange County, Ventura County, Santa Maria and Watsonville were simultaneously in production and peak season had begun.
Strawberries, which depend on groundwater irrigation, are less vulnerable to changing rainfall amounts than some other crops.
On blueberries, California’s window between crops in the Pacific Northwest and in Mexico and Chile to the south is attractive enough to encourage new production.
“Last year we finished at about 44 million pounds, and this year could be substantially higher,” Alex Ott, executive director of the Fresno-based California Blueberry Commission, said April 2. “Recently we became the fifth-largest producer of blueberries in the U.S.”
The blueberry deal, which runs April to June, is scattered from San Diego in the south to Corning in the north.