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.

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.

Table Grape Ads Feature Growers

California Table Grape Ads Feature Growers

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

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

In an effort to shed a more positive light on agriculture and the growers who cultivate the food we eat, some advertising campaigns are focusing on bringing growers to the forefront. Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, said this is exactly what the Commission’s campaign has been doing, and it has been receiving positive feedback. “The heart of the global campaign the Commission is fielding,” Nave said, “is very much about California table grapes and the heritage that growers bring to the table—the years of understanding the art and the science that go into growing table grapes.”

The California Table Grape Commission has generated commercials that focus on the family aspect of California’s grape growers and can be seen on Food Network television. “The heart of the campaign of table grape ads,” said Nave, “is basically branding California and the growers of California table grapes. We’ve portrayed our brand this way, in this particular campaign, for about eight years, and it really resonates. A National Consumer research study of the four advertising commercials we are currently fielding on the Food Network revealed very high marks.”

Nave explained the commercials help to create trust between consumers and growers by showing consumers the faces behind their food. “The two commercials that feature growers’ families interacting with one another, one set in a vineyard and another at home, resonated the highest with consumers,” Nave said. “Consumers have a huge amount of trust for growers. There is a hunger among consumers—not only in the U.S., but in other parts of the world as well—to understand who is growing the food they bring home to their own families. So showing consumers a California table grape ad that features the grower, the grower’s family, and their vineyard, really resonates. So the campaign is working well. I think it’s a campaign that we will be continuing.”

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Links:

California Table Grape Commission

Grapes from California “Family Dinner” tv commercial

Grapes from California “Generations” tv commercial

California Table Grape Commission

Kathleen Nave on the Table Grape Commission

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

Before the California Table Grape Commission was established in 1968, only 1.7 pounds of grapes were consumed per person annually, according to Kathleen Nave, president of the organization. She said the Table Grape Commission began at the request of growers working with California’s legislature to better promote grapes. Today’s annual consumption rate is 8 pounds of grapes per capita.

“I had talked to some of the founding fathers back in the late 50s, early 60s,” Nave said. “They told me there were so many changes happening in the world and in the retail environment at that time, they were afraid of losing the land their families had immigrated to from around the world. So they wanted to come together and pool a little bit of money from every box of grapes they sold to be overseen by the state of California and a board of table grape grower directors to increase demand for their product“To this day, the Table Grape Commission is still governed by growers who are nominated by their peers in each district in which grapes are grown in the state,” Nave said, “and it is all overseen by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.”

While the Table Grape Commission continues to promote table grapes and to create a domestic demand for them, Nave said the Commission is reaching beyond this basic consumer base, to foreign consumers. “Everything we do is designed to create demand,” Nave said, “to get that retailer to put more California grapes on the shelves, to promote and advertise them more often, to encourage that importer to bring grapes in, and to get consumers to go into their grocery stores and ask, ‘Where are the California grapes?’”

Table Grape Nutrition

Kathleen Nave on Table Grape Nutrition

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

Table Grape AdAs consumers have demonstrated a consistent desire to eat more healthfully, food marketing campaigns are increasingly focused on the nutritional benefits of their products. Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, said the Commission has launched a global campaign to remind consumers about the versatility of grapes, table grape nutrition and why we love them.Table Grape Commission Logo_Page_1

“The campaign we are fielding in the U.S. is the same campaign we are running in 25 markets around the world,” Nave said. “And if you watch the campaign on the television, you will see it portrays the familiar beauty, simplicity, versatility and healthfulness of eating grapes. Everything we do is designed to remind consumers around the world why they love grapes and how easily grapes fit in a healthy diet.”

“Grapes have significant antioxidants and nutrients,” she continued. “And most importantly, families love them. It’s easy to serve grapes either as a snack or as an addition to favorite dishes like salads, pizza, sauces and yogurt. There are lots of ways you can have grapes in addition to eating them fresh out of hand,” Nave said.

 

Grape Commission Awards Education Grants

Schools in the table grape growing regions of California’s San Joaquin and Coachella valleys are benefiting from grants awarded this academic year.

In total, 36 education grants worth up to $750 were awarded by the California Table Grape Commission on behalf of California’s table grape growers. The funded projects will be implemented in the current academic year and will reach over 4,000 students.

“California’s table grape growers have been supporting local education for years,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the commission. “This program is one of the ways table grape growers give back to the communities in which they live and work.”

Examples of the projects include raised garden boxes for children with special needs, inspiring youth through chess and music, programming robots, growing grapes, and modern microscopy and cell metabolism.

The Innovation in Teaching education grant program was created in 1993 to support innovative educational projects in the table grape growing regions of California’s San Joaquin and Coachella valleys.

For more information, go to www.grapesfromcalifornia.com/EducationGrants.php.

CA Table Grape Growers Award Nine Scholarships to Local Students

Nine high school graduates from the table grape growing regions in the San Joaquin and Coachella Valleys of California were recently awarded scholarships on behalf of California’s table grape growers, the California Table Grape Commission announced TODAY.

Five of the scholarships were awarded to children of table grape field workers: three $20,000 scholarships to four-year universities and two $3,500 scholarships to two-year colleges. Four $20,000 scholarships to four-year universities were awarded to students majoring in agriculture-related fields.

For 30 years, California’s table grape growers have funded the nation’s first worker- focused scholarship program. The program has awarded over 100 scholarships to field workers and their children from the table grape growing regions in California. A few years ago scholarships were added for students living in the table grape growing regions who plan to pursue careers in agriculture.

“The 2014 scholarship recipients are all very talented and motivated individuals, with a variety of career interests,” said Kathleen Nave, commission president. “These scholarships are one of the ways that California’s table grape growers encourage and support education in their local communities.”

 

The California Table Grape Commission is pleased to announce the 2014 scholarship winners:

 

 

Vanessa Serrato Meza
Vanessa Serrato Meza

$20,000 Four-year Field Worker Scholarship Recipients

Ms. Vanessa Serrato Meza is a graduate of Desert Mirage High School in Coachella Valley, and will be attending University of California, San Diego in the fall to study human biology. Vanessa, having immigrated to the U.S. at eight years old, was interactive with others in her community by tutoring and assisting in their studies while taking numerous Advanced Placement and honor courses at her high school. She plans to use the scholarship to continue her education and someday return to her community to help those in need.

 

Ms. Diana Valenzuela, graduate of McFarland HS
Ms. Diana Valenzuela, graduate of McFarland HS

Ms. Diana Valenzuela is a graduate of McFarland High School, where she ranked at the top of her graduating class with a weighted GPA of 4.39. Diana was a team co-captain on varsity softball, the senior class secretary and a recreation leader in an after school program where she led activities for hundreds of elementary school students. Crediting her parents who came to the U.S. from Mexico and their diligence as her main motivation, Diana plans to study civil engineering at University of Southern California with the goal of giving back to her community by building safe public utilities, such as roads, buildings and bridges. Diana will be a first-generation college student from her family.

 

Lissette Garcia
Lissette Garcia

Ms. Lissette Garcia is a graduate of McFarland High School, and plans to attend University of California, Los Angeles to study biochemistry. As a member of Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), Associated Student Body (ASB) and the Roaring Leos, Lissete has participated in canned food drives, served as a math tutor, volunteered at the migrant program and elementary school function, and completed various fundraising activities. Lissette, whose parents she says embedded hard work into her, will be a first-generation college student.

 

 

$3,500 Two-year Field Worker Scholarship Recipients

Estefani Hernandez Dominguez
Estefani Hernandez Dominguez

Ms. Estefani Hernandez Dominguez is a graduate of Highland High School, and plans to attend Bakersfield College to study culinary arts. Estefani, who says her parents are the biggest influence in her life, is a deaf student who has not allowed her deafness to prevent her from succeeding. In high school she was the vice president of the deaf club and was an honor student her sophomore year. Estefani’s goal is to become a chef. She loves cooking food for family and friends, and dreams of some day owning a restaurant in Fresno and being the first deaf person with a Food Network television show.

Maria Lozano
Maria Lozano

 

 

Ms. Maria Lozano is a graduate from Reedley High School, and plans to study for an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in medical assisting at Heald College. Maria was very involved in high school, being active with the Spanish Club, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), California Scholarship Federation, Generation Green and was secretary of the Migrant Club, while volunteering in school and community activities. Maria came from Mexico to the U.S. when she was a baby, and refers to her parents as her heroes. She has dreamed of becoming a registered nurse for years. Maria will be a first- generation college student in her family.

 

 

John Taylor Ball
John Taylor Ball

$20,000 Four-year Agriculture Scholarship Recipients

Mr. John Taylor Ball is a graduate from Clovis West High School, and plans to attend California State University, Fresno to study agricultural business. During high school, Taylor was recognized as a Scholar of Academic Distinction, a high academic honor, while being involved in volleyball and basketball and serving the community through organizations such as Assisteens. Taylor’s family has a history in agriculture. His grandfather was a farmer in the San Joaquin Valley for many years. The combination of life experience and his family’s strong ties to agriculture have solidified his career direction and passion for agriculture, specifically the produce industry. Taylor has the goal of some day owning a thriving produce sales and marketing company in the Central Valley.

 

Adilene Gonzalez
Adilene Gonzalez

Ms. Adilene Gonzalez is a graduate from Hanford High School, and plans to double major in business administration and dairy science at California State University, Fresno. Adilene is known as a student who excels in academics and someone who demonstrates a concern for others through community service activities. Graduating with a 4.09 weighted GPA, Adilene was involved in the California Scholarship Federation and HHS Drama Club, and she devoted volunteer time to the local public library and a farm care program taking care of neglected animals. Her life-long goal is to some day administer her own dairy, continuing to keep the roots of agriculture in her family.

 

Julia Reese
Julia Reese

Ms. Julia Reese is a graduate from Clovis North High School, and plans to attend University of California, Davis to study plant science. Julia’s interest in agriculture comes from living in a farming region, her parents’ close ties to agriculture, and projects with 4-H and science fair during high school. Julia was a scholar athlete, graduating as a valedictorian while undertaking a number of co-curricular activities such as water polo, track and field and participating in youth court and key club, co-founding the French club and serving the community through a number of different organizations. Julia envisions her future working in a rural setting in a role that will help improve the production and efficiency of farming. She would like to work with grapes at the production level some day as a pest control advisor or fertility consultant.

 

 

Cristiano Alves
Cristiano Alves

Mr. Cristiano Alves is a graduate from Kingsburg High School, and plans to study agricultural and environmental plant sciences at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Cristiano balanced a rigorous course schedule with many activities such as water polo, involvement with Future Farmers of America (FFA), being his senior class president and a youth group leader and altar server for his church, and volunteering with Kingsburg Choir Crab Feed and Fresno Rescue Mission. His interest in agriculture comes from growing up on a farm and a unique opportunity he had through a vineyard maintenance project with FFA in which he was responsible for harvesting grapes, assessing crop fertility, weed management and pest control. Cristiano says some day he would like to become an agricultural pest control advisor.

 

Scholarships will be offered again next year, with applications for 2015 available in the fall of 2014 at www.grapesfromcalifornia.com.

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.

Scholarship Committee Member Minami Honored for 22 Years of Service

Photo: Chairman Louis Pandol (right) congratulates Dr. Dwight Minami (left) after presenting him with a board resolution thanking him for his service.

 

Dr. Dwight Minami’s Service on the Nation’s First Worker-Focused Scholarship Program

FRESNO, CA – Dr. Dwight Minami was honored on July 17 for his service on the committee of the California Table Grape Workers Scholarship Program.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Minami volunteered his time and energy to help evaluate over 1,000 applications that led to the award of college scholarships to California table grape field workers and their children. During his tenure, 76 students were awarded scholarships to attend universities, junior colleges and trade schools to study subjects such as accounting, nursing, engineering, culinary arts, biology and business.

“Dr. Minami’s involvement has been instrumental to the long-term success of the nation’s first worker-focused scholarship program,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “Using his expertise as a professor at California State University, Fresno and his knowledge of the valley and the agricultural industry, Dr. Minami’s valuable insight and conscientious review of each year’s applications helped ensure that talented, qualified candidates were selected to receive the grower-funded awards.”

The California Table Grape Workers Scholarship Program was established in 1985 and has since awarded over 100 scholarships to field workers and their children from the table grape growing regions in California. Dr. Minami served on the committee from 1993-2014.

“On behalf of the California table grape industry, a heartfelt thanks is extended to Dr. Dwight Minami for his hard work, commitment and dedicated service to higher education, the California table grape industry, and the state’s table grape workers and their families through the field worker scholarship program,” said Nave.

Table Grape Harvest Now Underway in SJV

Source: Cecilia Parsons; Ag Alert

Color, sugar content and berry size of many early table grape varieties hit harvest targets last week in the southern San Joaquin Valley.

Harvest in the Arvin area of Kern County is a week to 10 days earlier than normal this year, according to grape grower Ryan Zaninovich. Harvest of the San Joaquin Valley’s 70 to 80 varieties of red, green and black table grapes will continue through November.

Zaninovich, chairman of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League and manager at Vincent B. Zaninovich & Sons Inc. in Richgrove, said warm spring weather is driving earlier harvests in all grape-growing regions of the state. The desert region table grape harvest began in late April and will wind down this month, as harvest transitions to the southern San Joaquin Valley.

Coming off a record-production year of 117.4 million 19-pound boxes for all growing regions in 2014, Zaninovich said yields from this crop are estimated to be about average to larger with excellent quality. An updated crop estimate will be released in July, prior to the peak of the California harvest. Coachella contributes about 5 million boxes to the total.

Zaninovich and retired Kern County Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor Don Luvisi said no serious pest or disease issues are looming for growers. Grape quality is expected to be excellent again this year, with only minimal sunburn where canopies are light.

“When we have good spring weather, that generally means the quality will be high,” Zaninovich said. Grape mealybug is always an issue, but growers have been able to keep them under control, he added. Growers keep up with pest control and suppress powdery mildew early, Luvisi said.

The biggest challenges this season for growers will be water and labor. Most depend entirely on groundwater supplies for irrigation. Adequate water not only ensures higher yields, but also protects vines from stress that invites pests and disease.

“We’re all relying on groundwater and hoping the wells don’t go dry. I’ve heard of a few growers who are having issues with their wells,” Zaninovich said. “We all have strategies for best water use and to protect the longevity of the vines.”

Zaninovich said different varieties of table grapes use different amounts of water during the year. Varieties that are harvested early in the season or have lighter yields use less water than heavier producers or varieties harvested later in the season.

Labor will cost more this harvest season and availability could become a problem for growers later in the season, and many varieties and other hand-harvested crops demand labor, said Barry Bedwell, president of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League.

“There are no reports of shortages now, but the crunch time comes in August and September, when we’re competing with other harvests,” he said.

Harvest crews are paid by the hour with bonuses per box. Bedwell said they average higher than minimum wage, but growers base their pay on the state minimum wage. The harvest requires skilled labor, and crew members can average $10 to $14 an hour, he said. Table grapes are field packed into boxes and trucked to cold storage prior to shipping.

California’s approximately 500 table grape growers are looking at strong prices and robust export sales this year, according to Bedwell. The trend for both is upward, as growers are coming off two strong sales years.

Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, said table grape growers have been extending their harvest season with new early and later varieties of grapes. Red grapes dominate the top five. Flame, Scarlet Royal and Red Globe are the top three varieties in acres planted. Autumn King and Sugarone are two of the most popular green grapes, while Autumn Royal is the most popular black grape.

“With a longer harvest season and promotion efforts, we expect exports to be up,” Nave said.

Canada, Mexico and China are top export destinations for California table grapes. Bedwell pointed out that while California products are popular in China, that country’s table grape production far outpaces California. With annual production hitting 1 billion boxes, their Red Globe varieties alone equal all of California’s production.

China has begun the process of exporting grapes to the United States, Bedwell noted, and is currently in the pest review process—which could take another three years.

Luvisi said the biggest change in table grape production over the past 20 years has been the development of many seedless varieties.

“Seeded grapes are really hard to find now,” Luvisi said. Older varieties like Thompson Seedless are also being replaced with varieties that hit certain market windows. He noted Kern County table grape growers have planted a newer green variety, Superior Seedless, after taking out Thompson Seedless vineyards. Zaninovich said he has planted another newer green variety, Autumn King, which is a heavy producer.

In the past few weeks, Luvisi said, Kern County growers were checking vineyards for color, sugar and berry size to determine when to harvest. Market demand and prices also drive the decision, he said.

Recent weather has been an advantage. Temperatures above 95 degrees slow down development; cooler days with 85 to 95 degrees push maturity. When bunches of red grapes are 95 percent colored, Luvisi said harvest will begin. Green grape maturity is determined by sugar content. Berries will continue to size until picked, he added.

“We’ve had perfect weather for making sugar,” he said.