Despite a good growing season for California prunes, the current market may present some challenges for growers. A grower survey conducted by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is projecting an increase in tonnage this year, however value is not expected to be very strong.
“While the fruit looks good so far, growers are going to have to make some decisions come harvest time about how to field size the crop that they’ve got,” said Franz Niederholzer, Tree Crop Farm Advisor covering Colusa, Yuba and Sutter Counties. “It’s always been, the market’s not been very good for small to very-small fruit, but this year even medium fruit do not appear to have a lot of value.”
The NASS projection is calling for a 38 percent increase in tonnage from last year. The value of utilized production has averaged about $168 million a year since 2000. Niederholzer explained that shifting export markets have played a central role in what packers are looking for this year.
“It appears that if growers have a lot of small, medium sized fruit, they’re not going to get much if anything for that fruit and they’re going to have to pay for it to be harvested and hauled and dried,” said Niederholzer. “It’s a tough situation for growers this year, especially for growers who didn’t mechanically thin in the spring.”
Listen to the report below.