The spring organic grape deals in the Coachella Valley of California and the state of Sonora in Mexico are producing excellent quality and steady volume, with the expectation that there will be a smooth transition as California’s San Joaquin Valley starts up its shipments later this month.
John Harley of Anthony Vineyards, with headquarters in Bakersfield and production in both the Coachella and San Joaquin Valleys, told OPN Connect that organic volume is currently at a promotable level. “Organics are doing very well right now. We are pushing out a lot of volume in both reds and greens and have a pretty stable pricing structure.”
John Harley, Anthony Vineyards
“The market on organic greens is a bit stronger at $32-$36 per carton while organic reds have seen a slight dip recently to $28-$32 per unit,” Harley said. “The organic grape FOB market is related to the conventional price, and currently there are a lot of conventional red seedless grapes being pumped out, which has created downward pressure on the organic red price.”
“Organics are doing very well right now. We are pushing out a lot of volume in both reds and greens and have a pretty stable pricing structure.” –John Harley
Anthony Vineyards is expected to be harvesting organic reds in Coachella until June 26, with its production beginning in Arvin, the most southern San Joaquin Valley district, during the week of June 21. Green grape production will run a little later in Coachella as the company is growing some of the newer varieties that mature later, such as Sweet Globe and Autumn King.
“We will be picking green grapes in Coachella until July 8 or 9 and are expecting to start in Arvin right after the Fourth of July with Sugranoes," Harley said.
While there will be a smooth transition, Harley said volume will dip a bit during the shift from Coachella to San Joaquin. “We are in a promotional period right now and are expecting another one for organic grapes around the middle of July.”
“Mother Nature always has a say in these projected start and end times as well as the volumes that are produced,” he said. The San Joaquin Valley had some days with temperatures reaching 108 degrees in early June, and Coachella Valley is forecasting highs of 114 or 115 degrees the week of June 21. Extreme heat, close to 120 degrees, could end the Coachella Valley deal a couple of days early.
High temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley could reduce yields a little bit, but Harley does not believe that will make a significant difference. “We have a very good crop in the Valley. It’s not a record, but it should be an above-average crop.”
Michael DuPuis of Divine Flavor noted that Mexico’s organic table grape crop is also buzzing along without any issues. “We are right in the heart of our season,” he said. “We are finishing up the early varieties and transferring into our ‘Candy’ line. We think of June as our flavor month when we ship our more exclusive varieties.”
DuPuis estimated that Divine Flavor represents about 70 percent of the organic production being shipped to the United States from Sonora during the season. “We have about 20 different commercial varieties … both organic and conventional,” he said.
Michael DuPuis, Divine Flavor
Production has been a bit different this year as the Divine Flavor had greater volume in May than is typical. Over the last few years, the volume has been coming a bit later, but that did not happen this season. “We have had a very strong organic crop in May with exceptional quality,” DuPuis said.
In total, he expects Mexico to send fewer boxes to the US than it has the last few years when total volume topped 20 million cartons. “We had a very strong start in May. Toward the end of June, we expect to see a drop in volume," he said.
“We have had a very strong organic crop in May with exceptional quality.” –Michael DuPuis
Divine Flavor does have some of the newer, later varieties that will take production further into the season, DuPuis said, including Sweet Celebration, Autumn Crisp, Jellyberries, and Cotton Candy. Though there will be a little bit of an overlap with the start of California’s San Joaquin Valley deal, DuPuis does not expect it to cause a downturn in demand for Mexico’s organic grapes. He noted that the California valley will start off with the early varieties, which are different than the varieties Mexico will end its season with.