Monday, June 8, 2015

Slightly lighter prune crop expected this summer

The warm early-spring temperatures in California this year may cause prune tonnage to be slightly below last year, a survey of growers has determined.

In all, 100,000 tons of prunes, or dried plums, are expected to come out of dryers this summer and fall, down 4 percent from the 104,000 tons produced in 2014, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento.

While the plum set appears to be very good, the warm and early spring may increase the amount of smaller fruit, NASS reasoned.

Northern areas may fair better. Grower Tyler Christensen notices a heavy fruit set in his plum orchards near Red Bluff, as down crops in 2013 and 2014 may have given the trees enough rest to produce in abundance this year, he said.

"We had a pretty warm winter and a warm spring, so they came out of dormancy pretty early," Christensen said. "But all the farm advisers are assuring us that we had much better chilling hours than in the last couple of years. That and the fact that the trees got some rest from two years of down crops in our area, those two factors helped us out."

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