The 2008 California prune (dried plum) crop is forecast to be 120,000 tons, up 45 percent from the 83,000 tons produced in 2007, according to USDA/NASS' California field office.

Total 2008 bearing acreage is estimated at 65,000. The French prune variety accounts for 97 percent of all prune acreage grown in California. The production forecast is based on a survey of prune growers conducted by USDA, NASS from May 9-30, 2008.

The survey used a random sampling design based on total prune acreage for each operator. Responses were received from 249 growers representing 52 percent of the total bearing acreage.

Despite damaging spring weather, crop prospects are showing an improvement over the small 2007 crop. A cold snap during April caused several growers to lose more than 25 percent of their orchards and some growers lost their entire crops. A few growers also reported difficulty in finding enough bees to help with crop pollination. Prune growers will assess the crop again after the June drop.