California’s San Joaquin Valley raisin producers have more than one reason to be pleased as their grapes finish drying.
Cool weather in the spring. coupled with cool nights this summer, has boosted sugar levels, and berry size is bigger than usual. Yield prospects are looking good, too.
“Depending on the grower and the grape variety, many vineyards could be producing 2.5 tons of raisins per acre or more,” says Eli Akel, with Akel AG Consulting, Clovis, Calif.
“Growers will be paid 100 percent of the market price,” he says. “It’s been a while since that has happened. In the past they might have been paid as much as 70 percent to 85 percent of the full price upon delivery. Depending on supply and demand, they might even have received another 5 percent later in the marketing year. But, it’s unusual for growers to get the full price commitment for their raisins at harvest.”
Akel, who works with farmers in Madera, Fresno and Kings counties, reports growers began laying bunches around Labor Day, about a week later than normal. His dried-on-the-vine (D0V) producers also started about week later than usual, cutting canes Sept. 2.
During the second week of the month Brix meters were registering sugar levels in the 20 to 22 range, he says. Most the grapes were on the ground by the second weekend of the month. Reflecting this season’s cooler weather, the berries tend to be larger than normal, Akel says.