He credits packers for their role in meeting obligations to buyers. As of May 8, he notes, domestic and export shipments were down just 4 percent from a year earlier. ”That’s remarkable,” he says, “As a result, raisin prices should stay at least where they are for the rest of this marketing year because of the fantastic job packers are doing.”

However, the future beyond this year is murky. Following last year’s harvest, California’s growers tore out roughly 19,000 acres of vineyards, replanting most of them to nut trees, he reports.  “About 14,000 to 15,000 of those acres had been growing Thompson seedless and other raisin varieties,” Cardoza says. That equates to 30,000 tons of raisins no longer available for the marketplace. This year’s seemingly big raisin crop could also get much smaller since wineries are out right now contracting to buy Thompson seedless and other raisin-type varieties.

Fortunately, dry spring weather has minimized powdery mildew pressures in the vineyards. Continued hot, dry weather, would increase the likelihood of some mite flare-ups in the last half of May, Cardoza adds.

Hot days and cool nights along with a thunderstorm at the 50 percent bloom stage produced quite a bit of shatter. “The bunches that are there are a little on the small size but look nice,” he says. “They won’t have big shoulders. However, it’s hard to say what the crop size is likely to be. We really won’t know until we start putting grapes on the ground.”

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