Growers expect promotable volume for fall fruit crops

08/13/2012 11:36:00 AM
Vicky Boyd and Mike Hornick

Strawberries in the field.Mike HornickStrawberries were ripening for California Giant Berry Farms on July 31 at Skillicorn Ranch near Watsonville, Calif. DELANO, Calif. — Near-ideal summer growing conditions set the stage for ample supply in promotable volumes of most California fall fruits.

An exception is kiwifruit, which in parts of the state was hammered earlier in the spring by frost and then by hail.

From Labor Day onward, table grapes increasingly replace stone fruit in the spotlight.

That’s largely due to normal seasonal progression, but stone fruit also never fully recovered from the effects of an April hail storm.

Grape shipments peak in consumption in September, said John Pandol, special projects manager for Pandol Brothers Inc.

The quality, color and large berry size of the summer fruit should continue into fall’s varieties, several grower-shippers report. Reds, greens and blacks are all on offer.

The Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission’s July 19 crop estimate forecast 100.9 million 19-pound box equivalents.

Aron Gularte, salesman with Visalia Produce Sales Inc., Kingsburg, anticipates navel orange production to start Oct. 15-25, with strong volumes available to retailers for Thanksgiving.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to release its first citrus crop estimate for the 2012-13 season Oct. 11.

Last year the California navel season, which typically runs through May, totaled about 88 million 40-pound cartons, according to the USDA. The valencia season ending in October will finish with about 28 million cartons.

Navel fruit set appeared normal in late July, and June’s drop was slightly less than last year, several grower-shippers reported. Early on, that built expectations of good volume.

Like some other California fruits, mandarins are expected to arrive earlier than last year thanks to the mild weather.

Mandarin harvests could start 10 or more days earlier than in 2011, reverting to a more traditional start time, said Fred Berry, marketing director of Mulholland Citrus, Orange Cove.

The state’s largest apple supplier, Linden-based Primavera Marketing Inc., plans to start fujis and granny smiths in the final week of August.

Rich Sambado, sales manager, expected galas — the company’s largest variety — to sell out by mid-September. Most fujis are harvested by mid-October.

Apple supply is about equal to last year.

California strawberries, while perhaps not as omnipresent as in summer, still carry a lot of weight in fall.

Production was up 11% through mid-July, a good sign for autumn. Mild weather is the primary cause.

Volume was expected to run from 4 million to 5 million trays of fresh strawberries through August, beginning its seasonal dip in September to 3.5 million to 4 million.


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