The 2009 California natural seedless raisin crop is forecast to be 24.5% smaller than the 2008 deal, but the price to be paid growers will be only marginally higher.

 The estimate for 2009 is 275,000 tons, Gary Schulz, president and general manager of the Raisin Administrative Committee and the California Raisin Marketing Board, Fresno, said in his weekly newsletter Oct. 11. The per ton price growers will receive for the 2009 crop is $1,323, a marginal increase from the $1,310 paid in 2008, Schulz said in the newsletter. 

Growers and processors are in the second year of a three-year agreement that is designed to stabilize prices. The Raisin Administrative Committee recommended Oct. 6 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture approve a final free tonnage-reserve tonnage ratio of 85% and 15%. If the federal agency approves, growers will receive 85% of the per-ton price upon delivery with the balance to be paid when funding is available for the industry’s export program and once the crop estimate is realized.
If the industry meets the crop forecast, some growers may have to move quickly. About 90% of this year’s crop has been dried and boxed, grower-shippers said. The remaining 10% could be in jeopardy if the raisins are not brought in from the field by Oct. 13, when two days of heavy rain are forecast to start in the San Joaquin Valley.
One reason for the smaller crop, grower-shippers said, was the lack of irrigation water that also has forced row crop growers in the valley’s west side to leave thousands of acres fallow and to lay off several thousand farmworkers.

The California Raisin Marketing Board donated a truckload of raisin snack packs Oct. 7 to the Fresno Community Food Bank.

California raisin crop forecast down sharply from 2008 deal