California fruit and nut report

An early thunderstorm toward the latter part of September soaked raisin vineyards in the San Joaquin Valley, leaving puddles on the trays of drying grapes and threatening the quality of the fruit. Most growers were able to escape major rain damage, but some losses were reported.

By month's end in Fresno County, approximately 52 percent of the raisin crop remained on trays to dry and an estimated 28 percent had been rolled. Further south in Tulare County, raisin harvest was approximately 90 percent complete, and about 60 percent of the crop had been rolled.

Growers with dried on the vine raisins sprayed mold and mildew inhibitors on raisins as the fruit continued to dry. Due to a labor shortage for picking and rolling raisins, many growers began harvesting their raisins mechanically. Harvesting of table grapes continued during September for both foreign and domestic markets. Varieties picked and packed included Red Globe, Thompson Seedless, Autumn Royal, Christmas Rose, Crimson, and Crispy.

Wine and juice grape harvest also remained under way with Carignane, French Colombard, Barbera, Chenin Blanc, Grenache, Palomino, and Merlot among the varieties picked.

Stone fruit harvest

Stone fruit harvesting remained active during the month, but the season was nearing completion in many locations. Harvested varieties included Angelino, October Gem, October Sun, and Autumn Beaut plums; Snow Fall, August Snow, September Red, September Snow, September Sun, Snow Gem, Snow Magic, and Full Moon peaches; Arctic Mist, Red Jim, Arctic Pride, and Arctic Snow nectarines; and Flavor Fall pluots.

Stone fruit growers continued summer pruning activities following harvest to establish fruit wood for next season. Some orchards were being pushed out for replanting of new varieties. Red and Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Fuji variety apples were harvested across the state with good yields reported. Pineapple and Smyrha quince, and Early Foothill, Early Red, and Wonderful pomegranates were picked and packed. Kiwifruit harvest began during the month in Yuba County and some areas of the San Joaquin Valley. The crop appeared to be very large and was progressing and sizing well.

Growers began picking olives around mid-month. Many olive growers continued to treat their orchards for olive fruit fly control.

Harvesting in almond orchards continued. Harvesting began in many walnut and pistachio orchards around mid-month and by month's end, harvest was in full swing. Trees were shaken, nuts were swept and picked up from orchard floors and transported to hulling facilities.

Small nut sizes and sunburn damage were contributing to lower yields than expected of the walnut crop in northern counties of the state. In the San Joaquin Valley damage was noted in the form of shriveling and adhering hulls due to several hot summer days. Some walnut orchards suffered from broken limbs during shaking. Weed control and irrigation were ongoing in many citrus groves.

A few Valencia oranges continued to be harvested in the San Joaquin Valley. Rind breakdown and soft fruit increased from normal seasonal decline of the fruit. Most Valencias were going straight from the field to juice. By the end of the month, growers began preparing for Navel orange harvest. Navel maturity appeared to be about two weeks behind average, and sizes were small. Sunburn was showing on some outside fruit. Scale monitoring and treatments continued.

Harvesting of Chandler pummelos and Oroblanco grapefruit hybrids was under way. The manual labor shortage was a major issue for all citrus commodities.

California citrus

Oranges: The 2005-06 California orange crop is forecast at 110 million cartons, down 10 percent from last season. California's Navel orange forecast is 84.0 million cartons, 2 percent below the previous season.

Reports from the field indicate the 2005-06 Navel crop consists primarily of medium to small sized fruit. The exterior quality is excellent, with not much damage from wind or rain. Growers are hoping the recent rains will boost size as the season progresses. The 2005-06 harvest will most likely begin around the second week of November.

California's Valencia orange forecast is 26.0 million cartons, down 28 percent from 2004-05. The Valencia crop has developed normally thus far, with a good set developed during the Spring. No major problems have been reported, but it has been noted there is a little more thrips damage than is typical. In general, the crop consists of good quality fruit. Acreage pullouts continue to increase due to market pressures. Irrigation and pest treatments were ongoing as needed.

Grapefruit: The 2005-06 grapefruit production in California is forecast at 5.80 million boxes (194,000 tons), unchanged from last season's final utilization. The 2005-06 grapefruit crop continues to develop normally. Quality is expected to be very good, with heavy fruit set, but smaller sizes.

Lemons: The 2005-06 California production is forecast at 19.0 million boxes (722,000 tons), unchanged from the 2004-05 season. District I (Central Valley) harvest was to begin in late October or early November. Harvest of new crop District II (South Coastal Area) lemons will not begin until late December or early January. Harvest of 2004-05 crop lemons continued with heavy competition from Chile and Mexico. Harvest has begun in District III (Desert Region). Overall fruit quality is very good.

Tangerines: The 2005-06 California's tangerine forecast is 3.20 million boxes (120,000 tons), 14 percent higher than last season's crop. This season's tangerine crop is progressing well with no major problems reported. High demand for Satsuma and other varieties has resulted in steadily increasing acreage devoted to this crop.

California grapes

For the 2005 season, California's all grape production forecast, at 6.24 million tons, is up 3 percent from August and 11 percent above a year ago.

Wine-type production is expected to total 3.15 million tons, 50 percent of California's total grape crop. The production forecast for wine-type varieties is up 7 percent from the August forecast and 12 percent above last season. Berry size is larger than originally expected due to late spring rains and a cool fall. Wine grape quality has been reported as very high.

Production of table-type grapes is forecast at 790,000 tons, unchanged from August, but up 3 percent from 2004. At this level of production, table-type grapes make up 13 percent of the total California grape crop. A good table grape crop is expected. Harvest continued in September with Red Globe, Thompson Seedless, Autumn Royal, Christmas Rose, Crimson, and Crispy being the primary varieties picked.

California's raisin-type grape production is forecast at 2.30 million tons, unchanged from the August forecast, but up 13 percent from a year ago. Raisin-type grapes account for 37 percent of California's grape crop. Late September rains threaten the quality of the raisin grape crop.

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