California's cherry season is ramping up with substantial volumes to hold steady by the end of this week. Growers were concerned after thunderstorm activity passed through the growing regions late last week. It is reported that the storms did do some damage in the more southerly growing regions, but as a whole, California is still on track for what could be a record year.
"All eyes were on the Doppler Radar late last week as scattered thunderstorms threatened the growing regions of California," noted Ira Greenstein of Direct Source Marketing. "Some growers in the Bakersfield area were hit very hard and the early Brooks took a pounding but most growers north of Bakersfield and all the way up to Fresno only reported limited damage creating more of a natural thinning process."
Good promotions set for Memorial Day
Cherry volumes are expected to be strong come Memorial Day and although prices are still on the high side now, buyers will likely see prices reduce as volume builds in the lead-up to the holiday, providing good promotional opportunities.
"With a heavy set of California cherries currently hanging, the industry is gearing up for an active Memorial Day holiday with substantial promotions currently in place," Greenstein observed. "Expectations are to see steady volumes being harvested later this week as major promotions are locked-in for Memorial Day with ad pricing ranging from $32-34 on 11 ½ row, $38-$44 on 11 row, $50-$55 on 10 ½ row and as high as $60 on 10 row and larger."
"We will see a fairly snug spot market to open the week but there will be plenty of fruit to ship by the weekend," he added. "Barring any future weather events, the California cherry season will have a torrid pace to it." Today, a more significant rain storm is set to start and impact California for the next few days. FreshPlaza will follow the situation and continue to publish on the impact.
Larger sizes in store for other stone fruit
Other stone fruit like peaches and nectarines are also seeing an increase in volume in California. The pace has been slow though and the industry is still seeing smaller fruit sizes. However, suppliers are starting to see more larger sizes being packed and over the coming weeks, size profiles are only set to increase.
"California stone fruit growers are ramping up production week by week, although overall sizing is still challenged with fruit peaking in the 60 series," Greenstein said. "This week the industry will see more volume of 50 series and premium 40 series, with promotional opportunities kicking in by the end of the month. Pricing is still high with FOB’s ranging from $34-$36 for 50 series 2-Layer tray yellow and white flesh peaches and nectarines."
Early season apricots are still in plentiful supply and pricing is holding steady. According to Greenstein, overall stone fruit prices are predicted to adjust lower in the next week. "There are good supplies of California apricots available as well with pricing ranging from $26-$30 with size and quality being the determining factors," he concluded. "Look for California stone fruit pricing to adjust lower as more volume begins entering the market over the next 7-10 days."