California apple growers expect to start gala production in the last week of July.

Window opens for California galasThe niche deal fills the gap between dwindling imports and Washington’s new crop a month or so later.

Fruit size on California galas will be up this year but overall volume will be light — as it was in 2012 — said Rich Sambado, sales manager for Stockton, Calif.-based Primavera Marketing Inc.

“Quality is good and size is better, but it will be modest tonnage again,” Sambado said.

He’s noticed a similar volume trend on cherries and walnuts, but the causes aren’t clear.

The 100-degree temperatures that hit the state in early July did not appear to damage the crop.

“Galas generally make their push on size about 10 days prior to harvest,” Sambado said July 15.

“That’s starting now and it’s going to be warm again this weekend. It’s not a big deal, but it’s definitely not welcome. It can advance maturity without advancing color because the tree shuts down a bit.”

“This heat wave has put everything back a little,” said Andy Poteete, salesman for Bakersfield, Calif.-based Bidart Bros. Marketing Inc.

“The trees get so hot they just kind of sit there.”

Primavera Marketing expects to start galas around July 24 in small volumes initially and finish by Labor Day weekend. Granny smiths and early fujis will start around Aug. 26. Cripps pink usually starts about mid-October.

“The pipeline is fairly empty on galas,” Sambado said.

“Washington doesn’t have a lot of old crop — a bit more than last year, but it’s an insignificant amount. That’s even truer for the Chilean and New Zealand deals. There’s some around, but a new crop gala grabs a lot of attention with our top retailers.”

“We have an active opportunity for the month of August,” he said.

Chilean imports of royal galas sizes 70 and 80 entering at Miami went for $24 for an 18-kilogram carton tray pack on July 15, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fruit entering at Philadelphia ran $34-36. The USDA did not include galas in its report on Washington apple prices.

Primavera and Bidart Bros. Marketing account for about 90% of California apple volume, Sambado said.

Shipments from the state for the 2012-13 season were near 2 million boxes, down from the usual 2.6 million to 2.8 million. Weather extremes were to blame, according to the California Apple Commission.