BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The California pomegranate deal kicked off about Aug. 15 with granadas from Slayman Marketing. That’s two weeks later than usual, owner Dee Slayman said.
“We’re about the same as last year, down by a third,” Slayman said.
“If some have normal crops, others are light. Overall it’s going to be a light crop this year.”
A cool spring for a second straight year was to blame, he said.
But the vast majority of the harvest is the wonderful variety, and volume there is on track and set for an Oct. 5 start, Tom Tjerandsen, manager of the Pomegranate Council, said on July 25.
“The pomegranate harvest looks ample and promotable and right on schedule,” Tjerandsen said.
Early foothill varieties started about Aug. 25, with some angel reds due Sept. 8-10. They meet demand until the wonderfuls start.
“Mother Nature has been kind to the pomegranate season so far,” Tjerandsen said.
“Last year there was a significant problem with exceptionally cool weather, which hasn’t been a factor so far this year.”
Brad Paris, vice president and general manager of produce for Los Angeles-based Pom Wonderful LLC, said on Aug. 1 that picking in the Central Valley would begin in mid-October.
“Ours is looking to be a week to 10 days later this year than last,” Paris said.
“Hopefully we’ll catch up as the summer goes on. Most likely the cool spring pushed everything back. Fruit is progressing at the same rate since set, but the bloom was later.”
Even so, volume will be higher this year than last, Paris said.
“There’s been a lot of new plantings in the last two to four years, and we’re seeing that acreage come online,” he said.
Jeff Simonian, sales manager for Simonian Fruit Co., Fowler, said he wasn’t sure quite what to expect.
“I’ve heard mixed things,” Simonian said.
“A month ago I heard it was going to be a huge crop, but the blooms started falling off. I’m not sure if that’s a sporadic thing or everyone’s experienced that. We’ll start in mid-September with foothills.”
The Simonian Fruit pomegranate deal lasts about six months, into March. Most growers finish up in January or February.
Simonian plans to offer urbanekgranate variety pomegranates around Sept. 21, early wonderfuls about a week later, and wonderfuls about Oct. 17.
“There will be no gaps,” Simonian said. “Overall there are a lot of young orchards coming into production so the crop will be larger overall, maybe 5% to 10%.”