Organic grapes in California will see an early end to their season following this summer’s notable rainfalls. “We probably lost 30-40 percent of our grape crop that we had left to go. So for our supplies, we will be packing through October but we’re not sure how far into November we’ll go because of that,” says Craig Morris, citrus category director for Homegrown Organic Farms, who adds that it noticed that the red grape varieties looked to be more affected by the rains than the green ones.
Morris also notes that while the organic varieties of grapes weren’t necessarily more affected than conventional varieties, the tools to combat the effects of that moisture do differ and weren’t nearly as effective as the solutions on conventional grapes.
As for demand, when the rains initially happened, demand stayed steady. “It didn’t seem to experience the immediate boost you’d normally see after a disaster. After about 10 days to two weeks where the industry evaluated where we were, we did notice an uptake in overall demand and the market strengthened as well,” Morris says. However, he also notes that that’s not just dollars back to the growers. It’s also going towards covering harvesting costs that have jumped by at least 50 percent on significantly less yields.
Future pricing and demand
Where does that leave pricing? “The pricing level right now at retail still makes a lot of sense. If it was to jump significantly from where we currently are, that might slow movement which is something we don’t want,” he says.
In fact, the concern now lies with retailers looking for other grape solutions following this situation. “However we still have a lot of good fruit left out there so we want to make sure we move the crop appropriately,” Morris says, noting it's currently packing Scarlet Royal and Allison on red grapes and Great Green and Kelly on green grapes. “We have a lot of good grapes available to take us through the next six to seven weeks of the season so it’s not time to slow down.”