Fig harvesting in California happens in waves, with the tide shifting between the desert and the San Joaquin Valley.
“It did seem like there was a break between the seasons this year,” Maury DeBenedetto, owner of Fresno, Calif.-based DeBenedetto Fruit Co., said in late July.
“They get started, taper off, then we get started, taper off and so on.”
“Those in-between periods seemed more pronounced because of weather differences (between the regions),” he said.
“From what most of my customers tell me, there’s just not a lot of figs around. Everyone’s anxious to get going.”
DeBenedetto Fruit Co. began its second season in the last week of July, picking calimyrnas and kadotas. Picking was expected to run through about the third week of August, DeBenedetto said. From there, it transitioned from fresh to dry figs.
The company has long preferred an early deal for fresh, but many growers in the Madera and Merced areas will still be picking fresh in October, when DeBenedetto’s dry deal is ending.
Typical fall fresh figs are late kadotas, brown turkeys and black missions.
California produces 98% of fresh figs in the U.S., and all dried figs, according to the Fresno-based California Fresh Fig Growers Association. New plantings are up slightly in the state, and the association expects a steady flow of fresh figs to market into January.
In the Coachella region the next round of picking will be mid-September, said Ilene Weeks, general manager of Palm Desert, Calif.-based K&W Farms. Their fall crop is traditionally smaller than the summer harvest.
“Production has been good this year as the weather has been cooperative,” said Weeks, whose operation usually goes through mid-December.