Golden State's fall harvest features diverse range of fruit - The Packer

Golden State's fall harvest features diverse range of fruit

08/19/2011 12:39:00 PM
Don Schrack

FRESNO, Calif. — A retail buyer of a few generations back now paying a visit to his old office would likely assume there were more than a few misprints on the California fall fruit order form.

In his day, the arrival of September meant table grapes and stone fruit were soon to be removed from shelves. Melons and citrus were fall commodities. Not any longer.

Researchers, breeders and enterprising grower-shippers have stretched the plum season into November. Table grapes are available into next year.

Plus, there are now asian pears, kiwifruit, apples, mangoes, quince and tons of pomegranates.

Supplies of most California fall fruit crops will be abundant and promotable, grower-shippers said.

Their outlook on the season's highlights:

* Apples — grannys, fujis, braeburns and cripps pinks — are expected to ship into November.

* San Joaquin Valley picking of figs will continue at least into October just as the final harvest of the desert crop begins, which means fresh figs into January.

* Yellow-flesh and white-flesh peaches and nectarines will continue shipping through September and for some varieties into October.

* A number of proprietary varieties of plums will challenge angelinos for dominance as the plums will be available in good supplies well into November.

* The desert mango harvest will continue until mid-October. As usual, the sizes are impressive with lots of 4s and 5s.

* Harvesting of early pomegranates began in mid-August, but picking of wonderfuls, the most popular variety, won’t begin until late October. New plantings will help provide plenty of pomegranates for the holiday season.

* A shorter than expected desert crop forced the table grape industry to reduce its volume forecast slightly, to 97.5 million cartons — “plenty of grapes projected to fuel promotions into January,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission.

* The asian pear season began in early August, and there will be plenty of fruit into next year. It is not a huge crop, but sizes are big.

* A near bumper crop of kiwifruit — nearly 8 million tray equivalents — is forecast, but that estimate is on the conservative side, said Nick Matteis, assistant manager of the California Kiwifruit Commission. Shipping of early varieties is expected to start about the end of September.

* The mountain pear district is just hitting its stride as picking in the river district continues. Good to excellent quality pears of several varieties should be available through the holidays.

* There are scattered reports that the persimmon crops — both fuyus and hachiyas — could be down slightly. Harvest is expected to begin in October with good supplies of top quality fruit forecast through the holidays.

* The California navel harvest will begin around Nov. 1. Volume may be down slightly — about 93 million cartons, but sizes are expected to be large.



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