FOWLER, Calif. — The 2011 California plum deal is a bit like playing pin the tail on the donkey on a map of the San Joaquin Valley.

If the pin goes in a bad spot, the outlook for that plum orchard is uncertain. In other places, the pin will find an orchard that may produce greater volume than in 2010.

Wherever the pin goes, shipping of California plums will probably be later than last year, grower-shippers said.

The plum acreage for Fowler-based Fowler Packing Co. Inc. is among the potentially stronger producing orchards, said Justin Parnagian, director of sales.

“We had a good fruit set,” he said. “The crop looks as though it’s going to be very good.”

Fowler Packing will open its plum deal with the black magic, the company’s proprietary variety. Picking is scheduled to begin the first week in June, Parnagian said.

Fowler Packing projects its plum volume will be about the same as 2010, “but it could be a little larger,” Parnagian said.

The picture was less defined at Giumarra Reedley, said John Thiesen, division manager for the Reedley office of Giumarra Bros. Fruit Co. Inc., Los Angeles.

“Some areas are very light, and some areas with the same variety have plenty of plums,” he said. “In some areas, there could be a significant reduction in volume.”

The cause, Thiesen said, could be the frost that hit pockets of the valley in late winter.

Giumarra will open the plum season in May with two varieties, spring flavors and flavorosas.

Family Tree Farms, Reedley, will begin its plum deal with fruit from the company’s west hills acreage, said Don Goforth, marketing director. Picking of flavorosa plums is scheduled to begin about May 20, he said.

The plum outlook also is bright at Fresno-based Crown Jewels Marketing LLC.

“We are hoping for a second consecutive good year for plums,” said Atomic Torosian, managing partner.