Today is Saturday August 29th , 2015

2014 Prune Harvest

Harvest got underway in the Yuba‐Sutter region and in the San Joaquin Valley the  week of August 10 for French Variety Prunes.  Further north, harvest got  nderway the week of August 17.

In the Yuba‐Sutter region, sugar levels started out in the 21‐24 range with 3 to 6 lbs  pressure, but improved quickly with favorable weather conditions as hot  temperatures moderated and cooler nights prevailed.

In the Yuba‐Sutter region expectations of good crops are holding true so far and  some growers report yields up to 5 to 6 trees to the bin (about 12 green tons/acre),  though some areas are going 10 to 12 trees (about 6 green tons/acre).

In the San Joaquin Valley, crops are lighter, and one report indicates that better  fields are going only 7 green tons per acre with pressure reported at 4.5 lbs and  sugar at 21%.  Another grower reported that crops are very with harvesters going  25 trees to fill one bin.

It is too early to tell if the overall state crop is trending heavier or lighter than  estimated, but fruit is small where crops are heavy and sugar is still in the lower  range.  Quality is excellent and off‐grade levels are low so far.

New Marketing Coop established

As a cooperative, PBA provided services to its members to jointly market members' prunes for the past 3 years. The agreement provided that PBA act as the agent on behalf of the member without taking title, and handled the logistics to find buyers, pack and ship prunes to buyers, and provide the means to transfer title from the growers to the buyer. The PBA acted as the handler of record, paying marketing order assessments and packing and shipping costs, collecting payments from buyers, and distributing net proceeds to the growers.

This trial into direct marketing has been successful and has provided benefits to the PBA and its members in the form of better returns and increased knowledge of the market. Growers involved in the program wish to continue, however, the initial program was a temporary solution for our members who could not find a suitable buyer for their crops. With the supply balance having swung in the opposite direction, continuing the program through PBA may compromise its ability to negotiate with packers, as packers could see the PBA as a competitor if the we continue to market prunes directly.

For this reason, an organizing committee of PBA board members met on July 25, 2013 and formally incorporated a new organization. Articles, bylaws, membership, and marketing agreements were drafted and reviewed. The marketing agreement will provide for similar structure as before: the new cooperative will act as an agent only - title and risk remain with the grower until sold to buyer.

The California Prune Growers Marketing Association (CPGMA) establishes a permanent and ongoing direct market program for PBA members and their prune and nut crops. The new organization will be owned and operated by and for California Prune Growers and is a separate and stand alone legal entity from the PBA. The CPGMA will make direct sales from growers to buyers utilizing risk management strategies to improve returns and profitability. It will build on the success and support of the customer base established over past 3 years as well as help to expand markets and explore new opportunities for the benefit of growers. Growers must be a member of PBA to join.

The CPGMA will provide an alternative market channel for PBA members, providing market access, transparency, and trends in real time. As a separate entity it provides self-direction for growers in the marketing program, and the necessary structure to secure bank financing. For further information, or if you would like to become a member of the new organization, please contact Greg Thompson at 530-674-5636 office, or 530-713-9909 cell.