Extreme temperatures may impact start of San Joaquin table grape season

From Fresh Plaza | 4 July 2024

Overview of grapes from California in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on July 03, 2024.

The table grape industry is preparing its transition from Sonora, Mexico to the Central San Joaquin Valley with many growers starting harvest next week. However, a heat wave with extreme temperatures could impact the front end of the season. “New plantings with light canopy cover are at greater risk for damage and growers will also have to deal with water restrictions,” says Ira Greenstein with Direct Source Marketing. “Very few growers have the ability to flood irrigate ranches.”

Temperatures are expected to exceed 110°F and stay close to that daily high for almost two straight weeks. It seems as if California growers will have to get used to the extreme weather. It will be interesting to see how the new proprietary grape varieties will respond to the heatwave. “Growers are still learning how to manage all the new varieties and each one will react to the extended heatwave differently.”

Mexico will continue to have steady supplies, but quality and condition will vary by variety. “Many retailers will look to transition to California by the 15th of July, if the fruit is an upgrade to what’s left in Mexico,” Greenstein said.

grape prices by history

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Red seedless

There continues to be a split market between Mexico’s ‘regular’ Flames and the country’s proprietary varieties, with a spread of almost $6.00/box between the two. Mexican Flame seedless are trading between $14.95 and $16.95, but volumes and condition are declining quickly, limiting availability on quality fruit. Marketers crossing good volumes of Sweet Celebrations are holding onto better pricing, ranging from $20.95 to $22.95 and Passion Fire are selling for mostly $18.95. Growers in Arvin, CA are hoping to get started by the second week in July, but the extreme high temperatures will limit the hours labor can be in the field, as well as delay sugar. As a result, the spot market is expected to start ticking higher over the next three weeks on all red seedless, with Arvin expected to open between $24.95 and $26.95 FOB for early Flames.

Green seedless

Over the next three weeks, a decline in Mexican green grape crossings is expected. However, there will still be enough supply for an easier transition to California. Some retailers have moved away from Sugraones, adding more demand for Timson, Ivory and Sweet Globes. This has created a split market with Sugraones trading from $16.95 to $18.95 and the proprietary varieties selling between $22.95 and $24.95. “The quality on Sugraones is very good, so there is still some real value for those not being variety specific,” shared Greenstein. Growers in California will be off to a slow start due to the extreme heat, but decent numbers of Ivory and Valley Pearl will be harvested by the 15th of July. Until then, the industry should have enough green seedless grapes from Mexico to keep the pipeline filled.

grape prices by variety 1

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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