California’s Bard Valley Finishes Up Date Season
Weather Challenges Hurt Quality
By Patrick Cavanaugh,
Bard Valley fig growers in
the southeast part of the state, where most of the California dates are
produced is wrapping up the season, however it followed challenging summer
rains, which set up a process where some of the dates would start to ferment,
or sour, and could not be harvested.
“This week we are getting the
bags down and cutting the fruit arms in the trees, and cleaning up equipment, ”
said Ron Hill with Royal Medjool Date Gardens, Winter Haven. “ The last dates
were harvested last week and we are trimming up our young trees and getting
ready for next season.”
Overall, production was up
but there was some souring. Hill noted that bags are put over the fruit
branches to protect the dates from windstorms and so that any dates that drop
off will stay in the bag. “You always have the heat, along with sugar in the
dates and when the rain came, it raised the humidity.
Often times there is 10
pounds of fruit which fall in the bag, and we had about 60 percent of that
fruit that was probably bad,” said Hill. “Overall, the industry lost about 20
percent of production.”
Hill noted that the Coachella
date production area had more problems.
Hill noted that when the
crews were taking down the bags they were able to harvest some late maturing
dates on the fruiting branches. We were able to get another five or 10 pounds
per tree, which helped in overall volume.
Hill noted that the date
industry is able to name their own price just as long as they are sensible. “We
have a big chunk of the industry and we set the price before we even harvest,”
said Hill. “If the price needs to be adjusted because things are moving slow
then the industry works with the buyers.
Total date production in the
Bard Valley was 16 to 18 million pounds this year, up a bit from last year.
Labels: Bard Valley, California Dates, Ron Hill, Royal Medjool Date Garden