California raisin growers are expected to harvest about 270,000 tons of raisins this year, according to a preliminary estimate from the Raisin Administrative Committee in Fresno.
The preliminary estimate – about 20 percent lower than last year’s 336,000 tons – was prepared in anticipation of the International Dried Grape Conference being held in China this week.
Committee officials said the estimate is plus or minus 15,000 tons and will be reviewed as more of this year’s crop is delivered to packers.
Glen Goto, chief executive officer of the Raisin Bargaining Association and a member of the Raisin Administrative Committee, said several factors contributed to a smaller crop, including a decline in yields, less raisin-grape acreage being farmed and more interest in raisin variety grapes from wineries.
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The industry estimates there are about 10,000 to 15,000 fewer acres of raisin grape vineyards compared to last year. Some raisin grape growers are ripping out their vineyards and planting higher-value crops, like almonds.