October harvest update for California

It’s harvest time for many California agricultural products. Although wet weather has delayed the harvest of several crops and potentially damaged one, specialty crop output should be plentiful overall. 

Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley have benefited from increased scattered showers in the past few weeks. Unfortunately for raisin growers, though, the late rain could damage a quarter of the crops, as the grapes have yet to be dried and harvested. Such a scenario couldn’t come at a worse time as a sharp drop in Turkey’s raisin production has lowered worldwide supply. Foreign demand for California raisins is sure to skyrocket and so will prices. A growers’ organization is predicting the highest raisin prices in two decades.  

While almond harvests have been delayed because of the rain, the wet weather could benefit olive and walnut production. California is the leading olive-producing state. Mild summer weather caused the harvest of “table olives” to begin two weeks late. The fruits are smaller-sized in general, which should bring lower prices from canneries. Some farmers will choose to wait for more rain as their olives remain rather green and can quickly grow in size provided they receive more moisture.  

Full harvest of kiwifruit has just gotten underway in the golden state. Farmers are reporting more large-sized fruit on the vines this season, while several growers claim this is the best crop they’ve ever had. Expect kiwifruit prices to decline next week.  

     “As the season changes, so does the source of California strawberry production, as harvest shifts southward from the Watsonville-Salinas area to Oxnard and other southern regions,” says the California Farm Bureau Federation. “Harvest will continue along the Central Coast until rain begins in earnest. Farmers remain on pace to establish a new production record. They’ve sold about 4 percent more strawberries so far this year than they had at this time last year.”  

Sweet corn plantings in the state increased by 13 percent from last year. Consumers can expect more California-grown sweet corn on the market this Fall. Tomato and cantaloupe plantings also increased. These crops have been aided by favorable weather during the growing season.  

The cool, wet spring California experienced has reduced pear production. Overall pear output from the three states that grow the most (Washington, Oregon and California) could be down 10 percent from last year. Forecasters still predict quite the bounty as last year’s crop was large.