For a variety of reasons, the California organic stone fruit deal this summer has been in a demand-exceeds-supply mode since the outset and that situation is poised to remain in effect until the season is over.
“We have been in a hand-to-mouth situation since we started and the extreme weather we received recently is just prolonging that,” said Stephen Paul of Homegrown Organic Farms, Porterville, CA.
In mid-June, California temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley soared to 110 degrees, which did not do the fruit any favors. While more normal temperatures prevailed toward the end of the month to help limit damage, organic stone fruit supplies were short anyway and will remain so. “The crops are lighter; they are just not as robust as last year, ” Paul said.
Paul predicted that buyers will be able to find supplies of organic stone fruit through July, but they will taper off in August. “We do have a late peach deal that will run through September but supplies generally are not going to keep up with demand.”
As far as grapes are concerned, Paul said there was some damage with the very high temperatures, which lasted about a week, turning some grapes into “instant raisins.” But he noted the drop in temperatures and said July should be a good month for organic grape production with several San Joaquin Valley areas harvesting. He added that the heat, which saw temperatures above 100 degrees for six straight days, was a far cry from the worst he has ever seen. “In the late 1980s, we had 21 straight days of high heat. That was the last time I saw such severe temperatures for an extended period, ” he said.
Also moving into focus is the melon crop from Central California. Several growers began harvesting fruit on July 3, which was four to six days later than usual. Steve Smith of Turlock Fruit Company, Turlock, CA, said the season is getting underway in a demand-exceeds-supply situation for all melons – conventional and organic. The extreme mid-June heat brought an early end to the desert melon deal so grower-shippers are getting underway in a strong marketing situation.