Things are getting better for Kern County's top crop. After a difficult two years for California table grape growers, conditions seem to be aligning nicely just in time for the start of the Central Valley harvest.
People in the business say prices and quality are looking strong and the crop is ripening in an orderly fashion. Plus, there's no sign of an oversupply. What's more, the industry is about to launch a marketing campaign it hopes will persuade shoppers to take special note of where their grapes are grown, the idea being that there's a local economic benefit to buying products produced in California.
If the 2020 season pans out well, it'll come as a relief for growers of a crop that in 2018 produced farmer revenues of more than $1.5 billion in Kern, more than any other agricultural commodity in the county that year.
Two years ago there was a glut that kept prices low — good for consumers, bad for farmers. California turned out above-average volume of about 116 million 19-pound boxes of table grapes.