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California grapes, led by reds, hit 93.3 million boxes in 2009

by Keith Rosenblum | April 25, 2010
California produced 93.3 million boxes of table grapes in 2009, almost three-quarters of which were red grapes, and is on target to produce about 4 million boxes more during the 2010 season, according to the California Table Grape Commission.

That production brought about $1.37 billion into the state. Of that figure, some 5.8 million boxes, or about 6 percent, came from the Coachella Valley. Last year's total figure was just above the five-year average of 91.8 million boxes.

The data, based on figures provided by the commission's 550 members, had not been released to the public as of April 16. The commission awaits production statistics from its membership rather than rely on U.S. Department of Agriculture figures, which, while more commonly used, are considered not as reliable, according to the commission.

The data also revealed growers' annual packaging methods. In 2009, non- sealable, zip and slider bags accounted for 81 percent of all shipping. Another 10 percent was sent out in clamshells, the ubiquitous plastic crush- resisting container. The rest went out in wrap and plain bags.

All in the top 10 spots are seedless, except Red Globe. Jim Howard, vice president of the Fresno, CA-based table grape commission, said that Red Globes are commonly exported and, owing in part to a Martha Stewart recipe, are now a staple at weddings where the grape is carved, filled with soft goat cheese, sprinkled with pistachios and served as an hors d'oeuvre.

In descending order, here is the list of the most abundant grapes and the number of 19-pound boxes produced.

Crimson, 19.6 million; Flame, 15.4 million; Thomson, 13 million; Red Globe, 11.7 million, Autumn Royal, 5.4 million, Sugraone, 4.9 million, Princess, 4.6 million, Scarlett Royal, 2.7 million, Summer Royal, 1.2 million, Autumn Green, 1.2 million.

(For more on Coachella Valley produce, see the April 26, 2010, issue of The Produce News.)