Production forecasts are predicting California prunes to have a huge bounce-back year. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is predicting California to produce 105 thousand tons of dried plums this season. The forecast production is over double the amount California produced last year.
In 2016, the California Dried Plum Board reported the state produced just 51 thousand tons which was the lowest yield since 2004. The small numbers last season were attributed to bad weather at the worst time. “They had a little bit of, quite literally, a perfect storm,” Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Dani Lightle told AgNet West last season. “They bloomed right when we had a big storm come through the north part of the state. There was a lot of wind, a lot of rain and the bees had almost no hours to fly, so we had very poor pollination in the prunes.”
This year should be a different story despite dropping acreage numbers. The NASS estimates there is only about 44,000 bearing acres this year, a number that has dropped every year from 2004 when it was around 70,000 acres. The NASS questionnaire showed there were beneficial conditions throughout the bloom period and growers are expecting a heavier crop and good fruit size.