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.

Farmers Launch New Health Advertising Campaign for Grapes

Ad Series Highlights Links Between Grapes and Healthy Heart, Brain, and Colon

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

A new ad campaign from the farmers of fresh California grapes highlights how consuming normal amounts of grapes each day may contribute to long-term health by helping to maintain a healthy heart, brain, and colon.

Reaching consumers online and through print and broadcast, the campaign revolves around a series of ads focusing on the power of the whole fruit: grapes contain more than 1,600 documented natural plant compounds, including antioxidants and other polyphenols.

Each ad highlights key research from scientific study in the area of heart, brain, and colon health. Scientists believe it is the combination of natural plant compounds and daily consumption that provides benefit.

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

“Consumers have always loved grapes for their great taste, convenience, share-ability, and beauty. Through this campaign, consumers will learn that the health benefits grapes provide go beyond the basics of eating a favorite fruit as part of a healthy diet,” said Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president. “It is already established that grapes are a heart-healthy food, and now research in the areas of brain and colon health is emerging that suggests that grapes may have an even broader role to play in long-term health.”

Nave noted that research into these three areas of health, and numerous others, will continue.

The campaign will run in magazines and newspapers in both print and online, on health-related websites, on television and radio, and on social media.

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.

Raisin or Wine Grape Decision is Made Early

Going Raisins or Going Green for Wine

By Brianne Boyett, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Jeff Bitter, vice president of Allied Grape Growers of Fresno, a wine grape marketing co-op owned by approximately 550 growers located throughout the San Joaquin Valley as well as the North Coast.

Allied Grape Growers markets almost 200,000 tons of grapes to over 60 different outlets, primarily wine and concentrate processors. According to some estimates, the wine grape crush was down this year for Thompsons. The decision is made early for the farmers to either pick green for crush or extend out for raisins.

“For the most part, growers make the decision whether to raisins or go green for wine grapes early on in the season,” Bitter explained. “There’s always a few fence sitters that will make the decision based on what’s going on at harvest time. There are also many decisions and some cultural practices that need to be made and done earlier than August, in a lot of cases.”

“We saw where this year’s crush has been lighter than anticipated, because the crop simply hasn’t been there. I think we’re going to see that the raisin harvest is much lighter than anticipated as well,” Bitter said.

There’s a higher demand for white grapes this year, mainly for concentrate and some wine production.

“Generally, the shortage and the interest in white grapes this year has come from the fact that the southern hemisphere was short. Actually, they’ve been short the last two crops. That’s kind of opened up a hole in the global marketplace for some lower and generic white juice and to some degree wine,” Bitter said.

Bitter said the demand for raisin variety grapes at wineries is mostly from concentrate, not so much for wine making.

“Some wineries will blend in concentrate into the wine for added sweetness, depending on what style wine they’re making. By and large, the concentrate that’s made from Thompsons is going to the food industry and to the juice market,” he explained.

Like Mother, Like Son: Passion for Grape Growing

Mother-Son Team Share Passion for Grape Growing

 

By Lauren Dutra, Associate Editor

 

Diane Laub and Jared Allred, Fresno County mother and son grape growers, shared their passion for grape growing and some insight on their raisin and winegrape operations. “We have mostly Thompson Seedless,” Allred began, “which has been made into raisins for the last couple of years. Sometimes we send them to the winery if the price is right. We also have about 75 acres of overhead trellis dried-on-the-vine (DOV) Fiesta grapes that we use for raisins every year.”

 

With the harvest season behind them, Allred summarized, “in the first week of August, we went through and cut all the canes on the DOV grapes. The raisins started drying on the vine for a few weeks, and then we sent a mechanical harvester through.”

 

The mother and son team also farm 85 acres of French Colombard. “We used to have 40 acres of Syrah,” Allred added, “but we took [the variety] out this last year because the price hasn’t been good and the vineyard was not in very good shape.”

 

SJV grapevines Aug/Sept

“In years past, we used to send all of our Thompson’s Seedless to the wineries,” Allred explained, “but the price hasn’t been good the past three years, so we’ve been making it into raisins. This year, the only thing we have going to the winery is our French Colombard.”

 

Allred also commented, “The crop this year looks pretty good, actually as good—if not better than—last year. ‘Not a lot of powdery mildew except on the Fiestas, which are always prone to a little bit of mildew.”

 

Diane Laub, Allred’s mother, explained her role on the family’s farm. “I mainly oversee everything on the farm and also do all the office work. That is what I was brought up doing. I still do all my own work: irrigate, parts runner—you name it.”

 

Laub is the daughter of the late Don Laub, a well-known and respected leader in agriculture and in the Easton community where he farmed. For 50 years, Don Laub was active with the Fresno County Farm Bureau and served as president from 1986-1988. In 1996, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Sacramento-based California Farm Bureau Federation. He also served on boards of many other agriculture organizations, including Ag One Foundation at Fresno State and California Association of Winegrape Growers.

 

Following in her father’s footsteps, Diane Laub explained her passion for the business, “It’s just something that I love to do. I don’t know what I’d do without it. You know, it’s my job; it’s my life,” she said.