Nobody is saying 2013 will be a bumper crop for California fresh figs, but most are saying it will be a very good year for everyone from growers and retailers to consumers and laborers.
The breba crop came on about two weeks early in orchards across California’s growing regions, said Karla Stockli, chief executive officer for the Fresno-based California Fig Advisory Board.
“It’s the best breba crop since I’ve been with the board. It’s even a little sweeter than last year. The weather is helping us out,” Stockli said.
Several growers predict no gap between the breba and the main crops this year, which means steady supplies for retailers to promote.
Surprising good news
Kurt Cappelluti, sales manager for Stellar Distributing Inc., Madera, Calif., said harvest began May 6 in the Niland area. By May 22 workers were picking around Madera, where Cappelluti expected them to continue until July 1. Harvest of the main crop should begin around July 15, he said.
Kevin Herman, president of the California Fig Growers Association, Fresno, said he thought the breba crop in the San Joaquin Valley would wrap up at the end of June. It was overlapping with picking in the Imperial Valley, which began about the second week of June.
“We won’t be having a gap this year,” said Herman, who is also owner of The Specialty Crop Co., Madera.
“I’ve had a goal for a long time to produce fresh figs from mid-May through mid-January and I think this season is the season it will happen.”
At Western Fresh Marketing, Madera, president George Kragie agreed there likely won’t be a gap between the first and second fig crops, which is good news for marketers. He said the timing and volume so far are pleasant surprises.
“The volume was up a bit on the early crop and we didn’t anticipate that,” Kragie said June 19. “We’ve been caught by surprise. They’ve already started the brown turkey figs and the calimyrnas will begin in mid-July.”
Volume remains consistent
At J. Marchini Farms, Le Grand, Calif., sales and marketing manager Marc Marchini said the breba crop would all be shipped by the end of June, with the late crop expected to produce good yields.
“We’ll meet demand,” he said. “Everyone’s going to get what they need. Retailers have been doing a good job of giving fresh figs their fair share of shelf space and we should be able to fill it.”