Raisin farmers woke to an unwelcome surprise Thursday morning – more rain.
This is the second time in two weeks that Fresno County’s valuable raisin crop has been dumped on, further squeezing the size of this year’s crop and possibly pushing prices higher.
It’s been a good news/bad news scenario for the region’s growers, who are among the largest producers of raisins in the world. Fresno County’s raisins were valued at $146 million in 2016.
Rain on Sept. 11 along with Thursday’s rain will likely cause damage to this year’s crop, but how much remains to be seen. Raisin industry officials say that the industry is in various stages of drying a crop estimated to be about 235,000 tons.
“Some guys have half their crop boxed and some guys have half their crop drying on the ground,” said Kalem Barserian, chief executive officer of the Raisin Bargaining Association, a grower group based in Fresno.
On Thursday, Barserian, an industry veteran, pulled back a proposed offer to the industry’s packers after hearing about the rain. Fresno received about 0.04 of an inch of rain overnight and Madera got 0.07.
The association was proposing $1,850 a ton for the crop, compared to $1,100 last year. Barserian knows this year’s crop is trending on the smaller side, and the recent rains could further shrink the crop.
“The price will go higher,” he said.
It may take about a week to 10 days for Barserian to deliver a revised price proposal to the packers.