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California prune crop off 50 percent from 2006

The 2007 California prune (dried plum) crop is forecast to be 90,000 tons (dried basis), down 5 percent from the June forecast and down 50 percent from the 180,000 tons produced in 2006, according to USDA/NASS.

Total 2007 bearing acreage is estimated at 65,000. The French prune variety accounts for 97 percent of all prune acreage grown in California.

The 2007 prune crop experienced an extremely warm period during bloom. The bloom was also one of the shortest in memory. As a result of poor pollination, a small set occurred statewide. Many growers in Yuba and Sutter counties reported extremely low yields. Several growers reported loss of fruit due to the dry weather conditions that hampered bee pollination activities. Production was also hindered as a result of stressed orchards recovering from the previous year's high production.

The production forecast is based on a survey of prune growers conducted by the USDA/NASS, California Field Office from Aug. 27-Sept. 14. The survey used a random sampling design based on total prune acreage for each operator. The sample is designed to provide a State estimate of production for all growers.

Questionnaires were mailed to growers on Aug. 27. Non-respondents were telephoned.

Responses were received from 220 growers representing 44 percent of the total bearing acreage.

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