The Chuck Olsen Co. Inc. in Visalia, CA, expects about a 30 percent increase in volume across all fresh table grape varieties through the season in the San Joaquin Valley this year over last year, according to Jeff Olsen, vice president.
The exceptions are the Scarlet Royal and Sweet Scarlet varieties, which will probably double in volume, he said.
“We are hoping to get started by the first week of July, but realistically right now it looks like probably around the second week of July,” Mr. Olsen said June 2.
The company’s earliest grapes will come out of the Arvin and Shafter areas in the southern San Joaquin Valley. “We start with Flames, then go to Princess,” he said. “We’ve got early Summer Royals as well. The way this weather feels, it will probably be the second or third week [of July], more likely the third week, on those.”
In its later ranches, the company has some Sugraones, but “we don’t have any Sugraones down south,” so the first green grape variety will be from an early Princess ranch in Shafter, he said.
The Chuck Olsen Co. also has “an early ranch in Fresno that typically comes out about the same time as the Arvin and Shafter,” he said. But with the weather patterns this year, “I kind of doubt that we are going to start that early” in Fresno. The crop in the San Joaquin Valley might be “spread out a little more this year.”
Continuing through the season, “we’ve got pretty much all the varieties, and any pack style. We are doing a lot of different things on the pack styles — clamshells, bags, what have you,” he said.
There seems to be “more need for clamshells than in the past,” and for RPCs as well, he said. But the company continues to pack heavily also in “your standard Euro cartons” with zip bags.
Joining the sales team at the Chuck Olsen Co. this year is David Perez, who was previously with The Grape Guys, he said.
The outlook appears promising for a good start to the season, according to Mr. Olsen. It was appearing that both Mexico and the Coachella Valley in California’s southern desert would finish their seasons “without any big inventories” and that there will probably be “a pretty smooth transition” to the start of the San Joaquin Valley harvest, Mr. Olsen said. Cooler weather in Mexico and the desert is giving the grapes “some really good color, so [growers] are getting the majority of the fruit off on the first pass, and the second pass looks like it is going to be a little lighter.” That should “hold up f.o.b.s” and provide a good transition into the early San Joaquin Valley deal, he said.
Between grower deals and brokering, “one way or the other, we are in grapes year round,” said Mr. Olsen. The company also continues “to do our consolidating with all fruit items,” consolidating loads for customers either in Salinas, CA, or in Los Angeles.