The latest California fruit and nut review from the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Sacramento, Calif., field office:
• September crop comments
Light rain fell across the northern and central regions of California in mid-September which was unusual for this time of the year. No damage to the grape crop was reported from the wet conditions.
Hot temperatures accelerated wine grape maturation. Raisin, table, and wine grape harvests continued in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV). Harvesting of wine grapes also continued along the Central and North coasts, primarily of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties.
The SJV apple harvest continued in the Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji, and Braeburn varieties. Peach, nectarine, plum, and fig harvests also continued. The prune harvest was complete.
Harvesting of Bartlett pears continued and the Asian pear harvest got underway, with Yali and Shinko varieties being picked. Pomegranates continued to develop in size and color, as harvesting of Foothill and Early Wonderful varieties was ongoing in the SJV.
Some strawberries were picked in Southern California fields though extensive Lygus bug infestations were reported. Harvested strawberry fields were plowed and prepared for fall season berries. Normal spraying and maintenance continued in orchards and vineyards, which included the initial applications of fall fertilizer for fruit trees.
The almond harvest continued at a slower pace during September in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. Hulling and stockpile fumigations continued for the almond crop. Shaking was complete for the Nonpareil variety, while some shaking remained underway for other varieties. Sweeping, gathering, and delivering activities continued.
The walnut and pistachio harvests increased in the Central Valley. Quality looked good, though some growers showed concern over lower yields, likely caused by the March frost.
• California citrus
California’s all orange production is forecast at 110 million cartons (2.06 million tons), up 13 percent from 2008-2009, but 11 percent below the 2007-2008 crop. Navel oranges are forecast at 80 million cartons (1.50 million tons), up 16 percent from 2008-2009, but 11 percent below the 2007-2008 crop. The navel orange crop continued to develop well in both size and quality. Harvest is expected to begin in late-October.
The Oct. 1 California Valencia orange forecast is 30 million cartons (563,000 tons), up 7 percent from 2008-2009, but 12 percent below the 2007-2008 crop. The Valencia orange harvest was winding down in the SJV.
• The California grapefruit forecast of 9.4 million cartons (157,000 tons) is 16 percent below 2008-2009, and 10 percent below the 2007-2008 crop.
California’s lemon production is forecast at 40 million cartons (760,000 tons), down 9 percent from 2008-2009, but 35 percent above the 2007-2008 crop.
Last season’s harvest concluded in the coastal areas during September, as harvest of the new season crop began in the desert region. Harvest was delayed slightly and fruit sizes have been lighter than normal. Fruit quality was reported as good.
California’s tangerine and mandarin forecast is at a record high 14 million cartons (263,000), up 4 percent from the 2008-2009 and 2007-2008 crops. Bearing acreage continued to increase. Satsuma mandarins were developing well and harvest was expected to begin in October.
— California grapes
California's all grape varieties production for the 2009 season is forecast at 6.25 million tons, unchanged from August, but 4 percent below last year.
Wine-type variety grape production is expected to total 3.4 million tons, 54 percent of California’s total grape crop. The production forecast for wine type varieties is up 3 percent from the August forecast and up 11 percent from a year ago. Overall, bunch counts are up from 2008 with the most significant increases in Chardonnay and red wine grape varieties.
Production of table-type grapes is forecast at 850,000 tons, 14 percent of California’s total grape crop. Production of table varieties is unchanged from the Aug. 1 forecast, but 13 percent below last year. Late table type grape varieties continued to be harvested for fresh use in September. Good overall fruit quality was reported.
The raisin-type variety grape production is forecast at 2.0 million tons, 32 percent of California’s total grape crop. Production of raisin varieties is down 5 percent from the August forecast, and down 20 percent from 2008. Although recent weather has been favorable for crop development, wet weather in early summer resulted in some bunch rot and mildew problems. Harvest of the raisin crop began earlier than normal and quality and sugar levels were reported as good.