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2017 California persimmon crop welcomes big bump

California persimmon growers could be looking at a healthy-sized crop this fall/early winter.

“Our fields were pruned very hard last year because of some big wind storms that had happened the previous winter. There were a lot of broken branches,” says Susan Bidvia-Kragie of Madera, CA’s Western Fresh Marketing Services Inc. “So we’re expecting to have double the amount of persimmons—a 1/3 to 1/2 more production than we had last year. That’ll be good.”

While the crop size looks larger, it may just start later thanks to weather conditions. “Last year we started in the last week of September and this year it looks more like possibly the first week of October because it’s staying warm. There’s been no cool weather and that’s what gives the persimmons their color,” says Bidvia-Kragie. “And we like to end before the first heavy frost. It’s nice to have them through Thanksgiving because they’re a good, fall fruit. But if you finish before Thanksgiving, you’re going to not have quality problems. If you go into late November, the quality can maybe suffer a little more. You don’t want to have soft fruit.”

Demand on the rise?
Meanwhile Bidvia-Kragie estimates that the growing crop can meet an equally growing interest for the fruit. “I think the demand for them is growing—it’s still kind of considered a specialty item, but it seems like specialty things have grown,” she says.

This might include varieties of persimmons--Western Fresh is still marketing the last of its Chocolate Fuyu (which doesn't taste like chocolate), a season that began at the end of August. "It used to be marketed in a small way a few years ago, but many receivers thought the fruit was bad due to the odd internal coloring," says Bidvia-Kragie. "We're trying again and if the customers are educated about this variety, they know what to expect." 

Chocolate persimmons
Also on the rise in California seems to be the number of farms growing the fruit. “In California, you have a lot of small persimmon growers. There’ll be 2-3 acre growers who ship them into the L.A. or San Francisco market. So for us as California shippers, we compete a lot with small, backyard growers basically,” she says. “I think you can move that kind of product to specialty buyers because it isn’t mainstream. It doesn’t go all over the country but it does affect the local California market. It makes it trickier for us.”

For more information:
Susan Bidvia-Kragie
Western Fresh Marketing Services Inc.
Tel: +1 559 479 2584

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