What is in this article?:
- The California raisin-type grape crop is huge compared to last season — bringing benefits and problems.
Large crops often create more problems than small ones, and this season’s California raisin-type grape crop is huge compared to last season.
This is resulting in confusion and indecision for Central San Joaquin Valley raisin and grape growers.
“We are averaging 11 tons per acre on Thompsons. Last year the average was 8,” reports Nat DiBuduo, president of Allied Grape Growers, the state’s largest grape growing marketing cooperative.
This has generated offerings ranging from $235 per ton to $300 per ton for green Thompsons. Gallo came out late at $250. Last year the average price was $325. DiBuduo expects the final price to average $250 since Gallo takes more Thompsons than any other winery. However, some growers are delivering their part of the big crop to wineries without a firm price.
“That is not the way to market a crop. Wineries are getting all the Thompsons they need,” he said.
Other growers made 11th-hour decisions to make raisins with the lower winery price. There was even a report of a crossarm trellised Thompson vineyard that was laid the week of Sept. 9 for raisins. Virtually all Thompson vineyards do not have crossarms to facilitate in row drying. The grower who saw the crossarmed vineyard doubted the raisins would dry naturally. However, the grapes must be picked by Sept. 20, the deadline to collect raisin crop insurance.
“Isn’t that fraud,” said the grower.
The large crop is creating a dilemma in the Raisin Bargaining Association’s efforts in negotiating a field price for raisins.
Glen Goto, RBA chief executive officer, said the RBA have offered packers a sliding scale of prices rather than a single price to start formal negotiations. Packers have a couple of weeks to evaluate the offer.
“We are still in a quandary about how big this raisin crop really is, and we may not know until next July,” he said. “But we need to start somewhere to get prices established.” Thus the sliding scale.
Packers are saying the crop is big and prices should be lowered from last year, and the RBA does not agree because it sees added sales opportunities ahead and growers are paying more to bring in this large crop.
The RBA sliding package calls for a price of $1,700 per ton if the crop comes in at more than 350,001 tons and $2,000 if it is less than 300,000 tons. Prices in between those two extremes are $1,900 for deliveries up to 325,000 tons and $1,800 per ton up to 350,000 tons.
“The industry produced 311,000 last year and sold every pound of it, so we feel we should be at least approximately the same price as last year if the crop is less than 300,000 tons of raisins,” he said.