California Down on Last Year’s Table Grape Volume


The after-effects of the spring rains and an extreme heat spell during summer are being felt by California grape growers. Suppliers say the industry has already adjusted the projected volume down twice, with a view that perhaps there are more reductions to come. Overall, growers maintain that quality and condition remain very good but total volume is down from last year.

“According to the most recent USDA data, California table grape growers are shipping between 630k – 750k boxes per day from the Central San Joaquin Valley,” observed Ira Greenstein of Direct Source Marketing. “The industry has moved through close to 23 million boxes so far this season, which is about a million fewer compared to this time last year.”

He added that another bit of good news is coming from the retail front, with figures demonstrating that consumers are still showing support. “Marketers and US retailers have worked well this season to put California red, green and black seedless front and center in weekly circulars. With summer vacations behind us and schools back in session, growers are hoping for the uptick in business that’s needed to get them back to profitable FOB’s.”

Scarlet Royal in full production
Growers continue to move through red varieties, with Scarlet Royal currently in full production, along with varieties like Timco, Krissy, Magenta and some proprietary varieties. Greenstein observed that growers are gradually replacing Scarlet Royal acreage with proprietary varieties and expects to see that trend continue. For now though, cooler nights will be welcomed as growers wait for more color.

“Although overall quality and condition of this year’s Scarlet crop has been very good, many growers are struggling to color-up,” he said. “Red and black seedless varieties require cool nights in order to achieve proper color, which hasn’t been possible with nighttime temperatures in the mid 70’s. Pricing on good quality red seedless currently ranges from $12.95-$13.95 on medium/large, $13.95-$14.95 on large and $15.95-$18.95 on x-large with the mostly market at $16.95. Marketers will continue to keep their foot on the gas in order to keep fruit moving through the system in a controlled fashion.”

Green seedless feeling effects of weather issues most
As mentioned, the grape crop is feeling the effects of the wet spring and hot summer spell. This appears to be more pronounced in the green varieties, with reports of mildew scarring and discoloration being seen in current shipments.

“However, overall quality and condition on the majority of fruit hanging is still very good,” Greenstein mentioned. “Currently, the industry is working through good supplies of Sugraone, Ivory, Princess and other proprietary green seedless varieties. A few growers are even making their initial passes on Autumn Kings this week.”

He also shared the current pricing of good quality green seedless on the domestic market right now. “Pricing currently ranges from $13.95-14.95 on medium/large, $14.95-$15.95 on large and $15.95-$18.95 on x-large with the mostly market at $16.95. As we enter peak production there is the potential for on-hand inventories to build but growers and shippers will look to keep fresh packed fruit moving with aggressive FOB pricing through the month of September.”

Autumn Royals taking over from Summer Royals
For black seedless grapes, Autumn Royals are increasing in volume over the next 7 – 10 days, while Summer Royals have all but finished harvesting for the season. There is still good availability remaining though, with pricing steady.

“Pricing on good quality black seedless currently range from $12.95-$14.95 on large and $15.95-$18.95 on x-large with the mostly market at $16.95,” Greenstein concluded. “Sunworld Midnight Beauty are also available, but are fetching a premium with pricing ranging from $17.95 – $20.95 with size being the determining factor.”

By Fresh Plaza