California fresh fig shipments are increasing from the San Joaquin Valley with normal quality and volume expected.
During the past five years fig shipments have actually got underway around the middle of July, so the timing of the 2018 fresh fig season in California is about two weeks later than recent years. Some observers compare season to be more similar to those of 10 or 20 years ago.
Stellar Distributing Inc. of Madera is one fig shipper noting the first of two fig crops this year was very light, but the second crop looks more normal. Shipments of central San Joaquin Valley figs will continue until around Thanksgiving.
California ranks first in the nation in fig shipments, accounting for nearly 98 percent of all U.S. figs produced.
The USDA reports there were 6,100 bearing acres of figs in the U.S. in 2016, and growers shipped 31,600 tons of figs. Of that total, 26,700 tons (84 percent) were processed.
Total fresh output has remained steady in recent years, though bearing acreage has declined slightly with improving yields. Fresh fig production in 2016 was 4,900 tons, or about 10 million pounds.
Western Fresh Marketing of Madera, CA has been packing brown turkey figs out of the California desert region since late May.
Desert region fig shipments are coming to a seasonal close, although harvest in the desert will resume later in the year with the return of cooler weather.
Although growing conditions have been favorable, observers say it is still impossible to tell whether the fig crop will be up or down compared with a year ago.
California fig shipments are often shipped to markets on both coasts because of the stronger demand, particularly from Florida up the East Coast and Los Angeles to Seattle on the West Coast.
In the U.S., imports of fresh figs in 2017 totaled 920,000 pounds from Mexico, 150,000 pounds from Chile and 150,000 pounds from Peru.
That is much higher than 2010, when Mexico shipped only 50,000 pounds and Chile 10,000 pounds to the U.S.
The primary fig varieties include black mission, sierras, brown turkey and kadota, with the tiger variety also significant.
San Joaquin Valley grapes and stone fruit – grossing about $9000 to Boston.