California pomegranates will have a shorter crop this season, particularly on the early fruit. “The bloom was lighter this year and the heat delayed us in harvesting,” says Brian Forrest of Youngstown Distributors, noting the season is starting about 10 days later than normal. “The heat did give us higher sugars, making the fruit very sweet this year. Now that the daytime high temps are starting to cool off a bit and with the cooler temperatures at night, we’re seeing the fruit color up very nicely.”
That lighter crop is also bringing about larger fruit size this season. Though how long this year’s harvest will go is yet to be determined. Forrest notes that Youngstown Distributors could pack fruit until the end of the year. However, on a short year, it could be done as early as Thanksgiving depending on the volume and how movement goes.
Right now, demand is good for pomegranates. “We just went through Rosh Hashanah and that demand was very brisk. The last two weeks have had everybody wanting to stock up on all the pomegranates they could. So now we’re adjusting to where we’ll see demand after the holiday,” says Forrest.
That said, he believes general pomegranate consumption will stay strong. “People see pomegranates as a healthy food and are buying them for juicing them or eating them fresh in addition to the traditional fall table decorations. People also love the ready-to-eat aril cups that we have available year-round. Demand is there no matter the season--people are always calling and asking when pomegranates are in season and when can they get more fruit?” he says, adding that Youngstown Distributors will be at the upcoming IPFA Global Produce & Floral show at booth 4458 in Orlando, Florida October 28-29.
As for pricing, while the early season saw pricing that was quite a bit higher than last year, prices have come down in the last few weeks to more traditional levels. “Though prices have come down they are still reflecting some increased cultural costs, which are way up over last season,” says Forrest.
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