An early start, a fairly large crop and excellent quality should characterize this year’s Coachella Valley table grape deal, grower-shippers say.
Robert Bianco, co-owner of Anthony Vineyards in Coachella, Calif., seems especially pleased with the coming season, which he predicts will be “an extraordinarily good year.”
Tom BurfieldRobert Bianco, partner in Bakersfield, Calif.-based Anthony Vineyards, checks out some red flame table grapes in mid-April in one of the company’s Coachella, Calif., vineyards. Bianco says 2012 could be “an extraordinarily good year” for Coachella Valley grapes. Temperatures usually hit peaks and valleys, he said. But this year, they’ve consistently stayed in the 70- to 85-degree range, which could result in one of the earliest starts the valley has seen in years.
“I don’t remember such a good year,” he said.
Anthony Vineyards should start picking sugraones and flame varieties by May 7, if not sooner, Bianco said in early April.
“We’ve had very good growing weather — no major problems at all.”
About the only thing he could have asked for is more rain. As of April 16, the valley had received only 1.7 inches of rain since July 1 — about one-third of normal.
Early start, more volume?
Bianco said the valley could produce up to 9 million boxes of grapes this season, about 500,000 boxes more than last year due to new acreage.
The season could start a week to 10 days earlier than last year for Peter Rabbit Farms in Coachella, said John Burton, general manager of sales and cooler.
He attributed the early start primarily to warm nights and mild days.
The company will start with perlettes during the first week to 10 days of May, followed a few days later by flames, then sugraones around May 20 and black grapes by late May.
“We’ll have all four of them going by the end of May,” he said.
Conditions look promising, Burton said in early April.
“We’re happy with the vine growth, the plants look good, and there are no major weather issues that would create any problems.”
It was too early to accurately predict the size of the crop, however.
“At this point, we’re looking at it being as good as or slightly better than last year’s harvest numbers,” he said.
Peter Rabbit Farms expects to ship table grapes through the end of June.
Los Angeles-based Stevco Inc. will start with flames around May 20, three or four days earlier than usual, said president Dave Clyde.
That could change if the weather cools, he added.
Quality looks good this season, and the crop should be a bit larger than last year, he said.
Richard Bagdasarian Inc. in Mecca, Calif., will kick off its season with perlettes the week of May 7, said president Nick Bozick. Early flames will start three or four days later.