California grape growers expect strong demand and good quality this summer, with the San Joaquin deal starting up to a week late for some.
Delano, Calif.-based Castle Rock Vineyards expects to begin shipping from the Coachella region about June 1, with volumes expected by about June 6, said Jim Llano, the company’s sales manager.
That’s about on time for Castle Rock, which typically begins its Coachella deal later than other grower-shippers, Llano said.
Demand was strong early in the Coachella deal, particularly for green grapes, Llano said.
Lower volumes out of Mexico should mean strong demand when Dinuba, Calif.-based King Fresh Marketing LLC begins shipping about June 20 from Coachella, said Keith Wilson, the company’s owner.
Export demand for California grapes should be very strong this summer, Wilson said. Mexico, Australia and the Pacific Rim should be among the top destinations for King Fresh grapes, he said.
With Mexican flame volumes running 5 to 7 days ahead of schedule, and the San Joaquin deal expected to be 7 to 10 days later than normal, demand for valley grapes should be strong when shipments begin in the first half of July, said George Matoian, salesman for Visalia Produce Sales Inc., Kingsburg, Calif.
On May 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $22.10 for 18-pound containers of medium and large flames from the Coachella Valley, down from $24.10-27.10 last year at the same time.
Daytime highs in the 80s and 90s, and nighttime lows 25 or 30 degrees lower than that, have been perfect growing conditions, Llano said.
“It’s great for coloring, sizing and sugars,” he said. “We’re happy with the way things are maturing.”
Castle Rock will kick off its Coachella deal with flames, followed by sugraones, summer royals, thompsons and scarlett royals, Llano said.
Flames remain the company’s top variety. Thompson production continues to decline as the company shifts more acreage to sugraones, he said.
Castle Rock will begin shipping from the Arvin area about July 1-3, with volumes expected about a week later.
After its late Coachella flame deal in late June winds down, King Fresh expects to begin shipping concords from the San Joaquin Valley about July 7, 7 days later than normal, Wilson said.
The company expects good quality and ample volumes out of the valley this summer.
“The bloom and shatter are doing good,” Wilson said. “We expect a normal crop.”
Following concords for King Fresh will be flames, sugraones, thompsons, autumn royals and other varieties, Wilson said.
The company expects to boost its production of scarlett royals, vintage reds and sweet scarletts this summer.
Autumn royal volumes could be down from last year, Wilson said.
Visalia Produce expects to begin shipping from the Arvin area July 8-10 and from Delano, Fresno and other regions in the northern part of the valley about July 15-18, Matoian said.
Visalia Produce expects normal volumes of flames, sugraones, thompsons and princesses and lighter volumes of three late-season varieties: autumn royals, red globes and crimsons.