Table Grape Shipments Soar

California Table Grape Industry Continues Record-Breaking Shipping Season

News Release

California table grape growers shipped more than 27.7 million boxes into the worldwide marketplace from October 13 to November 30, the highest amount ever for the time period, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The previous seven-week shipment record during the same time period was set in 2013. Earlier this season, the five-week shipping record for the time period between September 8 through October 12 was broken.

The three-month period of September 1 to November 30 set another record with over 55 million boxes of grapes shipped—an all-time high, according to USDA, beating the previous record set in 2013 for this time period.

According to Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, an aggressive fall and winter promotion program continues, with shipments expected to continue through the end of January.

USDA Purchases More Than $10 Million in California Table Grapes

Food Banks, Other Food Programs to Get Grapes as Part of Tariff Mitigation Program

New Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently completed a purchase of more than 450,000 boxes of California table grapes as part of its tariff mitigation program.

California table grapes were included in the USDA Food Purchasing Program for the first time as part of the mitigation program because of the 53 percent tariff imposed on U.S. grapes by China.CA Table Grapes

According to the most recent USDA data, shipments of California grapes to China are down 42.2 percent in volume and 41.2 percent in value in 2018 compared to 2017.

“The 2018 season has been a tough one for table grape growers,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “The tariffs on table grapes have been painful, but the real harm has been caused by the fact that tariffs on multiple competing commodities, such as cherries, stone fruits, and apples, caused more fruit of all kinds to be sold in the domestic market. The USDA purchasing program comes at a good time for table grape growers and is appreciated.”

Table grape suppliers interested in participating in the food purchasing program had to go through a rigorous process to become a USDA vendor and then if approved, submit bids in a competitive process. Multiple Valley companies were awarded the opportunity to supply California grapes to customers across the country.

The grapes will be distributed to food banks and other food programs around the country, starting in December.

Idea to Reduce Glyphosate Use with Grapes

Use Glyphosate When Absolutely Needed

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

There is an effort underway to minimize glyphosate use before bud break in grapes. It doesn’t need to be used all the time. A lot of annual weeds can be controlled with several herbicides. Keep the glyphosate for hard to control perennials.

John Roncoroni, a UC Cooperative Extension Weed Science Farm Advisor in Napa County, has made strides toward meeting this challenge. Many times, growers will do two applications of herbicides during the year … but what I’m trying to do is push it back to post-leaf fall after the season to clean up and come back with a pre-emergent material right before bud break then maybe skip that last glyphosate treatment after bud break.

Roncoroni explained that the idea is for grower not to use glyphosate on weeds during the growing season.

Reserve Glyphosate for tough weeds such as field bindweed.

Roncoroni mentioned that he works with school districts and municipalities, and there are many of them want to ban the use of glyphosate.

“It’s not so much the glyphosate molecule; it’s that we have all used so much of it over the years,” he said. “Rely on preemergent materials early in the season and reserve glyphosate as a clean up at the end of the season.”

“My philosophy when I talk to people is to not ban it but to save it for needed use. Maybe we pretend that there are no herbicide alternatives available. We have annual grasses that are easy to kill, then use an alternative herbicide for that. But when you have weeds where you need that systemic benefit of glyphosate, then use it. It is a good molecule, and it has an important fit in weed control, but it does need to be used all the time,” Roncoroni said.

And of course, reading and following the herbicide label will maintain its safety.

Enjoy California Table Grapes Year-Round

Harvest Will Continue into December

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

The California grape season is beginning, and the harvest will continue into the winter. California Ag Today recently spoke with Kathleen Nave, president of the Fresno based California Table Grape Commission, about table grapes.

The California Table Grape Commission was established by an act of the state legislature in 1967 and approved by a grower referendum in 1969. The purpose of the commission is to maintain and expand markets for fresh California grapes and to create new, larger interstate and foreign markets.

Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president
Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president

“We are just getting started with a California season. We will be picking grapes all the way into December,” Nave said.

Grapes are a spring, summer, fall and early winter fruit. Sixty percent of the table grapes that are harvested in the state of California are harvested after September first.

“I would just ask people to remember that they can enjoy California grapes in the spring and the summer, in the fall and into the early winter,” Nave said.

There are new varieties of California table grapes. These grapes have been grown by and designed to provide more product for the customer.

“New varieties of grapes were created that would allow growers to continue growing and harvesting in the late October, November, and December time period,” Nave explained.

These varieties were created with the climate in mind. This way, they can thrive and be packed and shipped in November and early December.

“It takes a long time to develop new varieties of table grapes, get them out in the field, learn how to grow them and to get them to the marketplace,” Nave said.

California Table Grape Commission is Raisin the Bar for a Fruitful Industry

Research is Huge for the Commission

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

With grape season in full swing, there’s an abundance of fresh, local grapes in our grocery stores. While our farmers are hard at work, so is the California Table Grape Commission, and their president Kathleen Nave. They are not only making their presence known in the media but are constantly doing research to improve the industry as a whole.

The California Table Grape Commission has been doing viniculture research since 1972 and is funded by growers.

“The commission does a lot of research on ways in which to help growers grow more grapes more efficiently,” Nave said.

This is done by trying to figure out how to grow grapes with fewer inputs, an example being less water.

Nave also explained the research they do to find the benefits of eating grapes, saying, “We do a lot of health research on those 1,600 phytonutrients that are found in grapes to try to pin down the ways in which grapes are good for us, as it relates to various disease states.”

Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president
Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president

Although research is huge for the commission, Nave described their relationship with retailers in the U.S., Canada, and about 30 other countries as “the heart of the commission’s work.” This includes urging retailers to promote grapes by putting them on the shelf, offering multiple varieties, and carrying California grapes from May to January.

In addition, Nave talked about the major presence the commission is making in the media in order to reach consumers.

“We’re on The Food Network [on] television as well as The Cooking Channel, and then we do a lot on social media,” Nave said.

The commission is active on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. In fact, Nave noted that their social media presence has quadrupled in the past two years.

Their goal is to showcase the beauty and versatility of California Grapes and make known the quality of work that the California table grape growers are doing every day.

2018 California Table Grape Season Under way

Table Grapes are Versatile And Healthy

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

California table grapes are now being harvested. Kathleen Nave, president of the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission told California Ag Today that fresh grapes are now available in local stores.

“California table grape growers began picking a couple of weeks ago, and consumers should be able to find California grapes in their stores today. And certainly, as the season progresses, grapes will be more and more available,” Nave said.

Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president
Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president

Consumers should be buying grapes for the taste as well as good health.

“Grapes contain about 1600 different phytonutrients—all kinds of things that are really good for us, and many important vitamins. There’s something magical in grapes that appears to have a lot of potential health benefits.”

Nave said she tells people that they need to be eating grapes basically every day because there’s something really good for us in the combination of things that are in grapes, and that’s grapes of all colors: red, green and black.

“They definitely taste great. Kids love them. So you know, they’re a healthy snack. They look beautiful when you add them to things like salads or you know, even pizza. You can even roast them. So they’re amazingly versatile and then they’re so good for us,” Nave said.

There are about 450 table grape operations in the state, from Southern California to Madera.

“There are vineyards in the Coachella Valley. We have long had a group of growers growing grapes in the desert,” Nave said. “Those are the earliest grapes that are available and are found in stores now, And then of course in the San Joaquin Valley, we have table grape growers from the Tehachapi Mounts North into the Madera area.”

Offering Grapes in School Lunch Promotes Better Eating

Less Waste When Grapes Were Served

By Jeff Cardinale, California Table Grape Commission

Offering fresh grapes as part of the school lunch menu helped improve the school lunch eating behaviors of children in a pilot study conducted through Texas A&M University.

The study looked at the effects on plate waste when fresh grapes were offered compared to when they were not offered. The results show that when the school meals included grapes, consumption of healthier menu items increased, suggesting that grapes can serve as a “gateway” fruit to healthier eating.

The study was conducted in two elementary schools and two middle schools from one school district in Texas. Grapes were made available on “grape days” as an offered fruit choice. Non-grape days were defined as days when grapes were not offered.

Study results included:

  • When offered as a fruit choice, grapes were minimally wasted.
  • On grape days, lost dollars attributed to vegetable plate waste was significantly less than on non-grape days.
  • Intakes of effective calories, fat, sodium, protein, and fiber per serving of entrees, vegetables and fruits on grape days were higher than on non-grape days.
  • On grape days, the children consumed more of the school lunch, which is an overall goal of school lunch.

“Our study shows that offering grapes in school lunches is a smart strategy that goes beyond grapes’ status as a favorite fruit to grapes having a beneficial impact on the degree to which students make healthy choices, and on their consumption of the school lunch overall,” said Dr. Peter S. Murano, co-author of the study.

It is hoped that schools across the country take note of the benefits of serving California table grapes in an effort to help encourage good eating habits for the students.

Wilson Vineyards Fully Mechanized

Mechanization is Future for Winegrapes

Ken Wilson, winegrape grower and owner of Wilson Vineyards in Clarksburg, just south of Sacramento, farms 12 different winegrape varieties and has been enjoying a productive season despite hot weather. Wilson’s top winegrape varieties are Chardonnay, Petite Sirah and Pinot Grigio (Italian), also known as Pinot Gris (French), and Chenin Blanc.

Presently, Wilson’s winegrapes are past veraison, a stage of ripening in the physical grape maturation cycle in which the berry starts to soften and take on sweetness and color. Veraison is an excellent phase for the winegrapes to be in at this point in the season.

Wilson elaborated, “Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are probably the furthest ahead, then Pinot Noir at 50 to 60%, and finally, Chardonnay around 30%. We’re getting good color and size now.”

Despite hot weather this year, Wilson says, “it hasn’t been too bad.” Most of his grapes are already contracted, and he anticipates a good vintage. “There are a couple of tons here and there, but [the winegrapes] have been pretty much sold out since early spring,” Wilson commented.

Wilson warned the higher cost of labor due to the recent minimum wage increase in California from $10 per hour currently to $15 in 2020. “We get pretty good winegrape prices. I’m not speaking for the district. I don’t know how some of these guys are going to survive,” he explained.

“We’re going to be forced into mechanization, and the wineries are just going to have to accept it. I think they are going to accept it, if they don’t want to pay [labor increases] anymore,” Wilson said.

Nevertheless, Wilson is more fortunate than some other growers because his vineyard is completely mechanized. “We’re 100 percent machine—other than a couple of special jobs where the winery who wants the grapes will pay for workers for hand harvest.

In comparison to Wilson Vineyards, vineyards in the Napa and Sonoma regions will experience significant wage increases because their winegrapes are hand-harvested. “The only hand harvesting we do amounts to less than one percent,” Wilson said.

Though Wilson evaluated this year’s crop as better than last year, “I think, overall, it is probably not much better than an average harvest, and yields may even be a little lighter than the average. I would say overall about 7.5 tons of winegrapes,” Wilson noted.

 

Local California Table Grapes are Going Global

Harvesting California table grapes is going strong. Many different varieties are being picked, and boxed in the vineyard and sent to the cooler for market.CATableGrapes

“We’re harvesting in the San Joaquin Valley now, and just finishing up in the Coachella Valley,” said Kathleen Nave, President of the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission. “The grapes are moving quickly into the marketplace in the US, Canada and around the world.”

“Mother nature has been kind so far with respect to the quality and the weather.” said Nave.

California Table Grape Commission is implementing a Grapes From California marketing campaign to connect with consumers around the world, as well in the U.S., focusing on usage, or ways in which grapes are consumed, and health benefits.

“We have brand new television commercials airing on the Food Network,” said Nave, “and we have Food Network magazine ads in the U.S. and similar ads in other parts of the world,” she added.

Nave said that the state’s grape growers have been amazing, producing two record crops, back-to-back, and now maybe a third. “So in 2012, we crossed the 100 million-box mark for the first time, and in 2013 ,we took a very big, unexpected jump, to 117 million. Our estimate for 2014 is just slightly higher than last year’s estimate,” said Nave.

Record California Table Grape Shipments

117.4M Boxes of Grapes Shipped Surpasses the $100M Mark for Second Time in History

It was announced TODAY that California shipped a record volume of 117.4 million boxes (116.2 19-pound box equivalents) of fresh California grapes during the 2013 season, a total crop value of $1.7 billion.

The 2013 season started with shipments in early May and continued into February 2014. California produces 99 percent of the commercial fresh grapes grown in the United States.

“Over the past 10 years the volume has significantly increased,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “In 2003 the crop was under 80 million boxes. In 2012 the 100 million box mark was crossed for the first time in history, and in 2013 another record was set with the crop totaling 117.4 million boxes.”

Exports also hit a new record in volume, with 48.6 million boxes shipped to export markets including Canada – a 17 percent increase over the previous year. The top export markets in volume included Canada at 11.9 million, followed by China/Hong Kong at 7.9 and Mexico at 6.6. The 48.6 million boxes exported represented 41 percent of the total crop volume.

With the 2014 season a little over a month away, the commission is gearing up its global campaign for Grapes from California which includes retail, consumer and foodservice programs.