Date Season Finishing up After Weather Issues

Date Season Finishing up After Weather Issues

November 8, 2013

California’s Bard Valley Finishes Up Date Season

Weather Challenges Hurt Quality
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Bard Valley fig growers in the southeast part of the state, where most of the California dates are produced is wrapping up the season, however it followed challenging summer rains, which set up a process where some of the dates would start to ferment, or sour, and could not be harvested.

“This week we are getting the bags down and cutting the fruit arms in the trees, and cleaning up equipment, ” said Ron Hill with Royal Medjool Date Gardens, Winter Haven. “ The last dates were harvested last week and we are trimming up our young trees and getting ready for next season.”

Overall, production was up but there was some souring. Hill noted that bags are put over the fruit branches to protect the dates from windstorms and so that any dates that drop off will stay in the bag. “You always have the heat, along with sugar in the dates and when the rain came, it raised the humidity.

Often times there is 10 pounds of fruit which fall in the bag, and we had about 60 percent of that fruit that was probably bad,” said Hill. “Overall, the industry lost about 20 percent of production.”

Hill noted that the Coachella date production area had more problems.

Hill noted that when the crews were taking down the bags they were able to harvest some late maturing dates on the fruiting branches. We were able to get another five or 10 pounds per tree, which helped in overall volume.

Hill noted that the date industry is able to name their own price just as long as they are sensible. “We have a big chunk of the industry and we set the price before we even harvest,” said Hill. “If the price needs to be adjusted because things are moving slow then the industry works with the buyers.

Total date production in the Bard Valley was 16 to 18 million pounds this year, up a bit from last year.