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Solid volume expected as California grape season starts
Early varieties of Central California table grapes are ready to be picked as the season begins in a matter of days. Depending on the region, growers are reporting that timing is on par with the long term average, with perhaps a slightly earlier start than normal. The other thing that has been normal is the weather, which is good news as it also means there have been no detrimental effects from untimely weather. Expectations are for volumes to be strong, with the quiet anticipation of a decent size crop in the pipeline.
"We are planning to start picking next Monday," said Philippe Markarian of Mirabella Farms in Fresno. "It's a fairly normal start to the season, and growers will be starting progressively over the next few weeks, depending on the micro-climate in their particular area. This week has been hot, with temperatures over 100 degrees. Overall growing conditions have been very normal, that is to say very good as it has been consistent, leading to consistent fruit growth. Quality and sizing are looking very good, in fact some of the best we've seen, across all varieties. We predict that crop levels will be average or slightly above, with fruit sizing tending larger."
First red and green varieties
The first red grapes for the season will be Flame seedless and for green grapes, Mirabella Farms will be harvesting a USDA patented variety. "The first of our green grape varieties is the Valley Pearl," Markarian shared. "After that, we will be moving into the Scarlett Royals and Autumn Kings. We also have a new variety that we have been experimenting on, but we will have more information on that later this year."
Markarian added that Flame seedless grapes are expected to have a much improved season over last year, when the heat wave damaged much of the fruit. "The month-long heat wave last year badly affected the quality and color of the Flames," he explained. "As a result, we had to send a significant amount of that crop to secondary markets. We expect that this year will be much better."
Retailers looking forward to California season
As the Mexico season wraps up, California's Central Valley grape supplies will neatly slot into the market. In fact, retailers are clearing shelf space now as they eagerly await domestic supplies. "We don't predict there to be a gap between the Mexican and California seasons," Markarian observed. "If there is to be any, it will be on the green seedless. Retailers are anxious to switch over to California fruit for the better quality and availability."
"Mexico is wrapping up and will hopefully be finished by early next week, leaving an open window for California," he continued. "They had considerably lower volume this year. For California, barring any weather problems, there will be plenty of promotable supply between now and December. Standup pouches and clamshells continue to be the packaging staple that shippers and retailers are using. We are very excited for the season as we will have strong volume and excellent quality."
For more information:
Mirabella Farms, Inc.
Tel: +1 (559) 237-4495
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