Several days of unusually cold, wet weather the week of April 19 will delay the harvesting of some California spring fruit, and thereâs another storm on the horizon.
âIt (the storm) caused trouble in that itâs delaying things, but not harming anything yet,â said Dovey Plain, marketing administrator for Family Tree Farms, Reedley, Calif.
Temperatures that inched above 80 degrees for several days followed a mid-April storm. Another storm sent temperatures below 60 degrees and brought occasionally heavy rain April 20-22. Yet another storm is expected to arrive in the San Joaquin Valley April 27.
Family Tree Farms had planned to begin harvesting early peaches and apricots the week of April 19, but Plain said picking would be delayed at least one week.
The rain has had little effect on the companyâs blueberries.
âWe just donât pick when itâs raining,â Plain said. âItâs the cool weather thatâs slowing us down.â
The storm forecast for this week could endanger the cherry crop, however.
âThis week (week of April 26) is when rain could damage the fruit, because the color is really coming on,â said Keith Wilkins, national retail sales manager for Flavor Tree Fruit Co., Hanford, Calif.
The rain in late April caused minimal damage in Kern County, he said, and cherry orchards further north suffered no damage.
The rain caused no damage to Trinity Fruit Sales Co. fruit, said John Hein, salesman, âbut itâs going to push us back.â
The Fresno, Calif.-based grower-packer-shipper was scheduled to begin harvesting cherries April 29, Hein said, but that could be delayed if the expected storm brings more rain.
Stone fruit harvesting could be set back as much as 10 days, he said.
The rain caused spotty problems for some strawberry grower-shippers, but there was minimal damage in the Watsonville, Calif., region, said Dan Crowley, sales manager for Well-Pict Inc., Watsonville.
No supply gaps are anticipated, he said, because the Well-Pict crews have been able to harvest between the storms.
In the stateâs more southern berry growing regions, the rain caused a drop in production, said Fred Valentino, salesman at RJO Produce Marketing, Fresno.
There is a positive byproduct from the storms. The unusually cooler temperatures are helping the fruit size, Valentino said.
The desert grape harvest was expected to begin in mid-May, a few days later than normal.
âItâs probably going to be pushed back a little more,â Valentino said.
The warm weather that was sandwiched in between the April storms was the escape hatch for the citrus industry.
âGrowers have been able to work around the rain,â said Bob Blakely, director of grower relations for Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual. âThe crews can find places where the fields are not too wet. They just must wait until the fruit dries.â
Those crews have been able to add to the fruit already in the packinghouses, he said, and there are no worries about gaps in supplies.
Despite the strange weather, most grower-shippers remain optimistic, Valentino said.
âThe overall outlook, it seems, is keep your head down, that weâre going to make it through this thing,â he said.