Persimmons gain ground

08/13/2012 10:46:00 AM
Mike Hornick

Like some other California fall fruits, persimmons should start about two weeks earlier this year than last, cashing in on the state’s mild summer and spring.

Madera, Calif.-based Western Fresh Marketing Services Inc. expects to begin production about Sept. 20, said Roger Pimentel, salesman. Shipping continues into mid-January.

“Industrywide it will be an average producing crop, but we will be up about 15%,” he said.

“We’ve added 20 more acres this year, younger fields that are coming on. We’ve been shipping more each year and I think our name is now synonymous with persimmons.”

Western Fresh Marketing’s other products include pomegranates, figs, kiwifruit and sugar plums, among others.

Persimmons come in two types, hachiyas and fuyus.

“Fuyus are eaten like an apple, but hachiyas are used in more ways,” said John Thiesen, division manager with Reedley, Calif.-based Giumarra Reedley.

“They’re really soft and tasty, and people use them for cooking, drying or decorating. Persimmons cookies and breads, for example. Cut, sliced and dried they’re very good, but there aren’t that many people cooking or drying persimmons anymore. Most of the market for the hachiya is primarily Hawaii and across the U.S. and Canada.”

“The fuyus are the bigger market,” Pimentel said.

Western Fresh Marketing does no exports of persimmons.

“All our product is U.S.,” Pimentel said.

“We send quite a bit to Hawaii. We have a lot of Asian customers for pomegranates, quince and persimmons, and at this time of year we grow and ship sugar plums as well. They lead to the same customers.”

Holidays, including Jewish holidays, typically bump up demand for such fruits. Quince is used in jams and jellies.

Hachiyas start production about mid-October, Thiesen said. In late July, volume predictions were still hazy.

“The fruit is still dropping, especially the hachiyas,” Thiesen said.

“They have a tendency to have multiple drops during the summer. A hachiya will sometimes drop its product all the way into early September.”

“The jury is still out on the sizing of fuyus and hachiyas,” Thiesen said. “Every size up means 15% more product.”



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