Apricot yield a little light, says California grower

Size and quality for Daniel Bays’ apricots look good though the overall yield appears a bit light given last winter’s lack of chill hours.

Bays farms apricots in the Westley area of Stanislaus County, Calif. He ships his fruit to Watsonville, Calif. for processing into jam.

The profitability of apricots continues to be positive, Bays says, adding that the tonnage price of processing apricots was “bumped up a bit” recently. This helped Bays pay his hand harvest crew which was more expensive this year.

Bays pointed out that fruit in the trees this year tends to be in the middle and upper portions of the trees and should typically also extend to the lower portion of the trees. He suspects water quality in the region may play a role in fruit set.

California farmers harvested nearly 54,000 tons of apricots in 2012 from 10,800 acres of trees, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) . Average yield was five tons per acre then, which was the lowest yield since 2006, when growers harvested an average of 3.3 tons per acre.

Apricot acreage in California has been fairly consistent the last several years, though down from over 15,000 acres in 2003, according to CDFA statistics.

The value of the 2012 apricot crop (the most-recent available year for statewide statistics) was over $32 million.

Bays is a third-generation farmer. He works with his father Ken and grandfather Gene on Bays Ranch which grows apricots, almonds, walnuts, processing tomatoes, lima beans and melons.

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