California persimmons may be greeted eagerly in October by a marketplace that hasn’t seen much of the fruit all year.
“Chile had a major freeze and maybe only 10% or 15% of a normal persimmons crop,” said Chris Kragie, deciduous fruit manager for Madera, Calif.-based Western Fresh Marketing. “Our pricing will probably come out higher because the lack of supply for the Chilean crop will push the demand for the early persimmons.”
“As the sliding scale comes down we hope it will remain above normal tendencies in pricing, but it will all depend on the overall volume,” Kragie said July 30.
At Giumarra Bros. Fruit Co., Reedley, Calif., hachiya persimmons — the variety favored for baking and decorative use — will start about Oct. 1, said John Thiesen, division manager. Fuyu persimmons — eaten out of hand like apples — come shortly after.
“Last year we had a bumper crop on hachiyas,” Thiesen said July 29.
“This year’s crop is not as large but from what we can tell now it will be adequate. We may make up for any volume drop with a bit better sizing. I’m not seeing as big of a set as last year, but the sizing may be better because of that.”
On fuyu persimmons, Western Fresh Marketing expects to start production in mid- to late-October.
“The growth is still coming on so it’s hard to say what the overall crop and sizing will look like,” Kragie said.
Even so, Western Fresh expects its fuyu volumes to be up as much as 25% after bringing another 20 acres to the fold with the addition of a grower.
That growth will support new retail pack business on persimmons, Kragie said.
At Giumarra, more than half the persimmon production is in hachiyas and the balance in fuyus.
Fuyus, too, are coming off a high-volume 2013, Thiesen said.
“Last year was a very large crop and produced for the most part a lot of smaller fuyus,” he said.
“My hope is for a little less of a crop and a bigger size, which ends up equaling just as much product.”
Hachiyas, Thiesen said, can be hard to figure.
“They hide from you until they start getting a bit of color or get bigger,” he said. Some night in August, he’ll shine lights into the trees.
“That’s usually when I can tell what kind of crop I have,” he said. “I still have fruit that’s dropping. Drops in persimmons can happen quite late.”
Quince volume continues to grow modestly at Western Fresh Marketing, about 5% annually, Kragie said.
“It has seen an increase in demand and movement in the markets,” he said.
“The overall knowledge of the fruit and its cooking uses has really pushed demand. I think it was the lack of knowledge about the fruit that was the challenge.”
Quince was expected to start production in late August or early September and run for about three months.
“We’ve been pushing a lot on how to use quince and that has helped, but it’s not going to double in size anytime soon,” Kragie said.