The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the 2017 U.S. grape crop — for fresh and processed — at 15 billion pounds, which is only slightly lower than last year’s total, but still the lowest production in the past five years.
Fresh-market grape production, however, is projected to drop less than 1%, putting it close to the five-year-average.
The estimate, and retail price analysis of last season, is in the USDA’s Economic Research Service’s Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook report that was released Sept. 29.
California produces the bulk of the crop, and is estimated to see a decrease similar to that of overall U.S. production, with 13.2 billion pounds, which is 88% of the crop. Only a fraction of that is for the fresh market, with a projected at 2.1 billion pounds (including some raisin grapes).
A heat wave in June caused sunburn damage to early grape crop in Coachella, and San Joaquin Valley — home the state’s main grape region in the summer/fall — harvest was delayed because of hot weather, according to the USDA-ERS. Shipped volumes in that region were about 10% behind last season through early September, according to the USDA.
With tighter supplies, prices are higher; June’s per-ton average was $1,690, compared to $1,444 over Junes from 2010-15, according to the USDA’s NAtional Agricultural Statistics Service. Although the price dropped to $1,530 per ton in July, it was up 3% from July 2016.
Table grape exports rose 6% in the 2016-17 season, to 765.5 million pounds, according to the report. Shipments to Canada and Hong Kong were down, but an increase to China and other countries offset that.