KINGSBURG, Calif. — High heat brought most California fruit crops on early and in ample volumes this summer, raising questions about how supply and demand will match up in the fall.
Grapes are a case in point. The bulk of the state’s crop ships after Labor Day. The California Table Grape Commission’s April estimate of 106.9 million boxes, if realized, would surpass last year’s production by more than 6 million.
But by July some saw higher prices as a possibility.
“We’re two weeks earlier than last year,” said George Matoian, sales and marketing director for Visalia Produce Sales Inc.
“Coupled with the demand that’s also so good, we might see a rise in f.o.b. during the month of September and definitely into the month of October, because we’re harvesting a lot more grapes earlier.”
“The whole early part of the season has been early,” said Sean Stockton, president of Tulare-based Sundale Vineyards.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how the middle and the later seasons play out because everything is coming on so fast.”
Grower-shippers and marketers expect larger fruit size but marginally smaller volume than last year when the new navel orange crop takes over for valencias, expected to end in October.
The navel industry packed 90 million 40-pound cartons for 2012-13, according to a July estimate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Booth Ranches LLC forecast navel size will peak on 72s.
For the Orange Cove-based grower, maturing groves were expected to bring volume increases as well.
Satsuma mandarins, the first of the easy-peel varieties, should be available in early October, said Joan Wickham, advertising and public relations manager for Sherman Oaks-based Sunkist Growers. Clementines will follow.
“I always say the oranges follow the grapes,” said Al Imbimbo, vice president of sales and marketing for Lindsay-based Suntreat Packing & Shipping Co.
“The amount of heat units we’ve had over the spring and summer will be conducive to great eating quality and perhaps a little earlier start.”
Summer’s heat seemed likely to make for sweeter kiwifruit out of the San Joaquin Valley.
Kiwifruit, like crops before it, appears to be early, with harvest scheduled for mid-October.
“Obviously with 100-degree weather the last 20 days, the sugars are really increasing,” Dan Spain, vice president of sales and marketing for Kingsburg Orchards, said in late July.