With the crop maturing fast this season, Berekoff could begin harvesting his grapes around Aug. 20. This year, rather than dry them on trays, he may send his green grapes to a dehydrator. That would be a first for him. He’d make less money — probably getting about what he would selling green to a winery. However, with the dehydrator company harvesting the grapes, he’ll not worry about labor at harvest time.

Berekoff is a Raisin Bargaining Association director and is expecting the industry to establish the price for this year’s crop by the end of August, if not sooner.

“Everyone is waiting to see how the crop sizes out and how that affects inventories before the prices are set for raisins and green grapes,” he says. “I’d like to see the raisin prices stay close to last year’s level — $1,900 a ton. That way, growers can continue to make money instead of barely breaking-even as we had been.”

Over the last three years, he notes, the price growers have received for their raisins has increased $600 a ton.

“Even with these higher prices, sales of raisins haven’t dropped that much,” Berekoff says. “The industry needs to give the current price levels time to work. Higher prices will enable more growers to keep their vines in the ground rather than replacing them with more profitable alternatives, like almonds.”

 

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