Washington Juice Grapes Attracting High Prices

11/27/2012

Prices for juice grapes grown in Washington are expected to remain strong next year; however, growers and processors at the Washington State Grape Society were not encouraging the cultivation of more acres.

Jim Gauley, chief financial officer of FruitSmart, says they want to maintain a slightly short supply in order to continue to attract good prices.

"We are kind of in balance on the Concord side," agreed Grandview grape farmer Tim Grow.

Washington, the nation's top grower of Concords, harvested about 173,900 tons of the juice grapes this year, said Trent Ball, agriculture department chair and viticulture and enology instructor for Yakima Valley Community College's Grandview campus.

That's up from the 156,000 tons state farmers crushed in 2011, he said. Still, the current projections are down slightly because grapes are not yielding as much juice as normal years.

Washington has about 21,000 acres of Concords and another 1,600 acres of Niagara juice grapes, he said. A small amount of acres has been lost since last year.

But tonnage per acre has gone up to about 8.3 tons from about 7.6 tons last year, Ball said.

Other Concord cultivation regions, such as Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania, have been devastated by frosts this year and are expected to deliver yields reduced by more than 50 percent. California is also low on supply this year, as is Argentina, where most of the imported stock comes from.

Overall, the U.S. crop is expected to be down, with about 294,000 tons, Ball said. The price for Washington Concords is at a high of about $280 per ton. Gauley said there has been an overall shortage with juice grapes, with this year's crop being the smallest since 1977.

Source: bellinghamherald.com