The season is in full swing for California table grapes and things appear to be going well. After an April estimate of 106.5 million 19-pound boxes, the forecast has come down to 104.9 million boxes for the season. The revised forecast brings production more in line with 2019 harvest numbers. Table grapes from California will be harvested through December and shipments will continue going out through January.
“The season is going well,” said Kathleen Nave, President of the California Table Grape Commission. “In spite of the increased costs associated with agriculture in the state of California, in spite of the pandemic, in spite of the trade deals that aren’t, this season is better than the last two. The last two seasons for table grapes have been really, really rough, but this season seems to be going better.”
Demand for California table grapes is reportedly strong in both domestic and international markets. September is an especially important month, with the majority of shipments typically being sent out after September 1. Nave explained that market and crop conditions are setting things up for a strong year. “Product is flowing into the marketplaces, prices are a little better, quality is excellent, crop size is good,” Nave noted.
Producers Continually Adapting to Industry Demands
There has been some concern among California table grape growers regarding supply. A few years ago, producers were dealing with an oversupply of table grapes. The market has since settled down a bit more, setting the stage for a successful year. “The crop size has stabilized, and the volume seems to be a good number for the industry. It’s a place where demand can exceed supply in certain time periods and for certain varieties,” said Nave.
There are 80 different varieties of California table grapes grown throughout the state. The number of varieties reflects the industry’s ability to adapt to shifting market demands. The industry traditionally cycles through the removal of older vineyards and the addition of new varieties. The development of new varieties and decisions for vineyard management are all very deliberate to fill various consumer needs.
“It’s a long-term strategic planning process that the industry goes through and that individual companies go through,” Nave explained. “The industry has planned very strategically for what is needed.”
Listen to Nave’s interview below.