California summer fruit defies drought threat

05/08/2014 02:23:00 PM
Vicky Boyd and Mike Hornick

“Unlike last year, where everything was really compacted and most of the cherries came off in the same month, this will spread it out, which will be good for the market,” she said.

With orchards in the south San Joaquin Valley ahead of other regions, Shales said Stemilt expects a normal-sized crop.

 

Melons

With growers prioritizing water use for permanent crops like tree fruit, it would seem easy for melons to fall by the wayside. Indeed, cantaloupe and honeydew acreage is being fallowed in Bakersfield and Huron, but the more active producers say overall supply will be sufficient.

“There will be no shortage of Westside cantaloupes this year by any stretch,” Steve Patricio, president and chief executive officer of Westside Produce, said March 21. “There may not be as many as in the past, but depending on sizing, there will be adequate supplies.” Honeydews too should have roughly normal volumes. He said he expects a July 1 start for production.

Even in Bakersfield, watermelon was being planted in normal amounts.

 

Apples

Apples were another crop with early flowers.

“Bloom is running about 10 days earlier than last year, which itself was a week ahead of normal,” said Alex Ott, executive director of the Fresno-based California Apple Commission.

Stockton-based Primavera Marketing Inc., which produced 1.1 million boxes last year, expects to start galas, the state’s dominant variety, around July 20, sales manager Rich Sambado said March 27. Fujis come in force around Aug. 20; granny smiths around Aug. 25.

Fujis, hardest hit by 100-degree plus temperatures in orchards last year, should show bigger numbers.

Growers were confident Washington inventories will empty out in time for California to enjoy its annual summer niche.

 

Citrus

California’s late navel oranges, which often ship up to the Fourth of July, were likely to be done by mid-May or June 1. That’s a result of the December freeze that wiped out $441 million worth of San Joaquin Valley citrus.

“It might provide some opportunities for valencia business domestically that we typically don’t have,” Bob Blakely, director of industry relations for Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual, said March 24.



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