At the beginning of August, raisin grapes in PCA Sara Savary’s Thompson seedless and Selma Pete vineyards in the Fowler area of Fresno County were past veraison. “Now we’re waiting for the sugar to come up,” she says.
The start of verasion this year was more normal than in the recent past. “The crop has been later the last few years, so it’s hard to tell just what is average,” she says.
Savary’s clients include raisin, table and wine grape growers in the Fresno-Tulare areas of the San Joaquin Valley. She’s been seeing a little lighter crop load across all types of grapes this season.
“Berries are sizing well and clusters are about average in size, but there just aren’t as many clusters as we usually see,” she says. “The crop size won’t be really low, but it will be off from last year.”
Growers have already started cutting Selma Pete canes to be ready for machine harvest by the end of the month. Her Thompson growers could begin putting grapes on trays the last week of August, compared to the more typical start around Labor Day.
Insect pressures in her raisin vineyards have been low. “We had a few outbreaks of vine mealybug on some end vines next to roads, which get more heat,” Savary says. “But, for the most part, the sprays worked in controlling them.”
Diseases haven‘t been a concern this year, either. “Even bunch rot hasn’t been much of a problem on our varieties of table grapes that are prone to diseases like Scarlet Royal,” Savary says. “We had some cracks on Fantasy grapes, but not as bad as some years.”
Her Selma Pete growers spray their vines about a week before cutting canes to suppress larvae of raisin moths, which are attracted to hanging clusters as grapes dry and continue picking up sugar.
Her Thompson Seedless growers are finishing their last irrigation as they start to get ready for harvest. Next, they will disk rows before putting up terraces to prepare rows for the grape trays.
“We haven’t had a lot of rain this year to cause a lot of disease problems,” Savary says. “The surprise this year is how quiet the season has been for pest control — and not just in grapes, but across the board, including tomatoes and cotton. That has been nice.”