Pomegranate shippers expect to switch from early wonderfuls to wonderfuls in October, and the more popular variety should ship through Christmas.
Dry, warm growing weather has produced ample volumes and good color and quality thus far this season, said Atomic Torosian, partner in Fresno, Calif.-based Crown Jewels Produce Co.
Aggressive thinning has yielded bigger-than-normal fruit, also a plus, he said.
Crown Jewels was shipping early wonderfuls at the end of September and expected to kick off its wonderful deal the week of Oct. 8, a week or ten days earlier than normal, Torosian said.
“It’s a good thing — it gives us more marketing days.”
The extra days will help meet strong demand from Europe, the Pacific Rim and other export markets, Torosian said. The company also is expecting strong pull for Thanksgiving, Christmas and possibly even Halloween, when some consumers use pomegranates for decorations.
Fowler, Calif.-based Simonian Fruit Co. initially thought it would begin shipping wonderfuls the week of Oct. 8, but as of Sept. 26, it was looking more like the week of Oct. 15, or at the tail end of the week of Oct. 8 at the earliest, said Jeff Simonian, vice president of sales and marketing.
Quality was good on the early wonderfuls Simonian Fruit was shipping in September, thought fruit wasn’t as red as the wonderfuls are expected to be, Simonian said.
Demand as of Sept. 26 is a little lighter than shippers would like to see, Simonian said. That could be due to a boost in production this season, he said.
But as the early wonderfuls yield to the wonderfuls, that could change.
“A lot of customers, especially exporters, want to wait for the wonderfuls,” he said.
On Sept. 25, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $30.25 for two-layer cartons of early foothills pomegranates, up from the $24 price reported last year at the same time on the Los Angeles terminal market.
Crown Jewels hopes to ship wonderfuls through Christmas, Torosian said. The company expects its pomegranate volumes to be up slightly over last year.