California prunes appear to be off to a good start after a strong bloom period. The cooler temperatures during bloom seem to have set the crop up for success as the season progresses. Growers are optimistic that even though bloom was a few weeks earlier than normal, that environmental conditions helped pave the way for a solid fruit set.
“The bloom time temperatures are really key to setting a crop and we really had ideal conditions. Prunes like a little bit of cool, even wet weather to set a good crop,” said Joe Turkovich, California Prune Board Chairman. “Now that the fruit is just pushing out of the jacket we’re starting to get an indication that indeed it does appear to be very good.”
The above-average temperatures in February helped to push bloom along. Turkovich explained that while the bloom was a bit more advanced than previous years, it will not advance harvest. The extended growing season should provide ample opportunity for the fruit to reach maturity and develop strong quality. Temperatures are forecasted to gradually increase over the coming weeks which should create ideal conditions for California prunes.
“That’s given us a nice cool ramp up into the summer which is what we want. The fruit as it’s starting to develop is going through cell division phase and it needs a nice steady ramp-up of temperatures not a sudden hit or blast of 80- or 90-degree weather,” Turkovich explained. “We’ve had a nice cool few weeks post-bloom and its exactly what we like to see.”
California producers provide about 40 percent of the global supply of prunes and represent nearly all domestic production. Orchards should be ready for harvest sometime in the middle of August and with the growing season underway, it appears that growers should be on track for a strong fruit set with good quality. “My particular area looks excellent so far and we’ll know more in a couple weeks. But right now, I’m very optimistic,” Turkovich noted.
Listen to the interview below.