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Quality up, prices down for SJV table grapes

“We’re in the eighth inning,” says Steve Cerniglia of the table grape harvest at Royal Madera Vineyard’s, which was winding down in early September. The season began July 10.

Cerniglia, who handles sales for the company based in Fresno, Calif., says, “Production is a little light this year, but the quality is better — about 80 percent to 85 percent are packing out as Number 1.”

The company farms 1,500 acres of Autumn Royal, Crimson Seedless, Fantasy Seedless, Flame Seedless and Thompson Seedless.

“The Flames and Fantasy look good and the Autumn Royals are really nice, with big size and full black color,” Cerniglia says.

Unfortunately, prices are off about a dollar from last year, ranging from $13.10 for a 19-pound box of green grapes to $14.10 for reds and blacks.

Pandol Bros., Delano, Calif., began its table grape July 1, starting with Flames, Summer Royal and Black Seedless. The last variety, Crimson, should finish by late November.

“This year’s quality has been exceptional,” says the company’s Tristan Kieva. “It is by far a year of high quality grapes in terms of sugars, size and flavor. Color has been outstanding.

“We’ve seen retail pressure for lower pricing due to economic factors. Many retailers are under the gun to deliver a lower price to their consumers, but the challenge is that the grapes are really at their highest quality, so there’s a balance to strike. Overall, we’ve seen prices lower this season than in the past due to this dynamic.”

TAGS: Grapes
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