Unusually warm weather in July and well into August in California’s San Joaquin Valley was affecting some fall fruit, but growers still anticipated flavorful, high-quality product during the autumn.
Here’s a look at how some of the most popular California fall fruit items are shaping up.
California apple volume will be up this year, said Alex Ott, executive director of the Clovis-based California Apple Commission. Growers expect to produce 1.7 million 40-pound boxes of fresh apples this year, up from 1.5 million boxes last year.
By late August, Greene & Hemly Inc., Courtland, Calif., expects to have braeburn, fuji and a few early granny smith apples, said owner Doug Hemly. Pink Lady and granny smith varieties will wrap up the season in late November or early December.
Despite record rainfall throughout the state last winter and early spring, Hemly said there “seems to be no adverse effect” on apples from the precipitation.
“We have a little better set than last year,” he said. “The thinning went well, so we have a nice distribution of sizes.”
The valencia orange crop was expected to wind down early this year — in mid-September — said Bob Blakely, vice president of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual.
California growers should ship 16 million 40-pound cartons of valencia oranges this year, down from 21 million cartons last year, Blakely said.
Quality, demand and pricing have been good, he said, as has fruit size.
The navel crop should start in late October, but it was too soon to predict the size of the crop, he said.
The Wonderful Halos crop from Delano, Calif.-based Wonderful Citrus Co. is expected to be 6% larger than last year’s, said Adam Cooper, vice president of marketing for Wonderful Halos.
Pasadena, Calif.-based Sun Pacific Shippers Inc. will begin shipping clemenule mandarins under the Cuties brand in November/December, said Howard Nager, vice president of business development.
California’s table grape crop should reach 111.4 million 19-pound boxes this season, an increase from 109 million boxes produced last year, according to the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission.
Hot weather resulted in reduced berry size on some early fruit, caused supervisors to cut back picking hours and delayed the coloring process, especially on red and black grapes, growers said. But they said flavor was not affected.
The commission was offering retail tagging opportunities for full-page ads in Food Network magazine as well as Châtelaine and Canadian Living that will appear throughout the fall, said Jeff Cardinale vice president of communications.
“Retailers can also participate in pre-roll video opportunities during user-initiated videos online,” he said, as well as in traffic radio spots.
A nationwide retail display contest is planned for September through December, and sampling events are scheduled for select supermarkets in California, Florida, New York, Texas, Ontario and Quebec.
California growers are expected to produce at least 30,000 tons of kiwifruit this season compared to 31,324 tons last year, said Nick Matteis, manager of the Sacramento-based California Kiwifruit Administrative Committee.
California kiwifruit is available from late September until April, said Chris Kragie, co-owner and import and sales manager with Western Fresh Marketing Services Inc., Madera, Calif.
As of early August, quality and condition appeared to be normal, he said.
The Flavor Tree Fruit Co. LLC, Hanford, Calif., which grows skelton gold kiwifruit, will have fruit available from October until January or February, said Maurice Cameron, president.
Reedley, Calif.-based Dayka & Hackett, which has been marketing a proprietary kiwifruit variety called Mega Kiwi for a few years, will start receiving promotable volume this year for the first time, said saleswoman Kris Mortensen.
It will be available from October until March.
There are mixed opinions as to when pomegranates will come off and what this year’s volume will be, said Ray England, vice president of marketing for DJ Forry Co. Inc., Pismo Beach, Calif.
“We feel like we will be ahead of last year in terms of yield, but until you get out there and pick it a lot can happen,” he said.
The company hoped to start picking its proprietary Rubilee variety Aug. 15.
The Flavor Tree Fruit Co. will market about 1 million boxes of wonderful variety pomegranates from SunnyGem Produce LLC, Dinuba, Calif., this season starting around Oct. 10, said Flavor Tree’s Cameron.
Last year, California pomegranate growers produced 5.6 million 25-pound box equivalents, a 5% drop from the previous year, according to the Sonoma, Calif.-based Pomegranate Council.
Growers were hopeful that this season would be back to normal with about 6.5 million boxes shipped.