Kern table grapes headed toward finish

Table grapes are hitting grocery store shelves at full force as the Coachella Valley harvest winds down and the effort moves northward through the San Joaquin Valley.

“Growers are now deep into the Superior Seedless and Flame Seedless harvest,” says Jennifer Hashim-Buckey, Kern County farm advisor. “Some cracking/berry splitting, not associated with thrips scarring, has been observed in Flame Seedless over the last two weeks. Some splitting associated with thrips scarring has been observed in other varieties.”

The recent spike in temperatures across the interior of California didn’t seem to have much of an impact on the crop, probably because nighttime temperatures stayed relatively cool.

“Most varieties are coloring well despite the couple of days of extreme heat. However, very moderate temperatures, optimal for ripening, are predicted for the next week,” Hashim-Buckey says. “Berry size is very large this year in many table grape vineyards, but uniformity of size may be lacking.”

Pest pressure remains relatively light in the southern San Joaquin Valley. “Pacific spider mite has been a challenge in some wine grape vineyards, but most have received at least one treatment to date,” she says.“Vine mealybug continues to be a challenge, showing up in new locations. Affected growers have been using in-season applications of Admire, Applaud, Assail, and sometimes Lannate.”

Again, the story of the season is water, or lack thereof. Growers are trying to figure out how to make do with less, but there is little room for further cuts, according to Blake Sanden, Kern County farm advisor.

“Microsystems for grapes and trees, especially immature blocks, can save 0.5 to 1 foot of water compared to flood,” he says. “Table grape growers already on drip can't do much as they are basically pumping water to fill berries. Wine grape growers in the valley already deficit irrigate by 8 to 15 inches below what some full cover table grapes get. They might be able to decrease a bit more. However, if we keep having 100 degree temperatures, the canopy can thin too much and burn or shrivel the clusters.”

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