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‘Normal’ California kiwifruit crop is down from last year

“We are looking at a good total crop coming up” for the 2013 harvest of California kiwifruit, said Nick Matteis, an associate at Ag Association Management Services Inc. in Sacramento, CA, which administers the Kiwifruit Advisory Committee.

The committee is a federal marketing order that maintains industry statistics and specifies grade and size standards for all kiwifruit sold in the United States.

“Based on our crop estimate,” 04-Kiwi-OverviewWorkers harvesting California kiwifruit. The crop is expected to come in between 7 million and 7.3 million seven-pound tray equivalents. (Photo by Rand Green)Matteis said, “it is going to be just a pretty normal size crop,” between 7 million and 7.3 million seven-pound tray equivalents.

The size distribution of the fruit appears to be “pretty well spread out among all the different size categories,” neither extraordinarily large or extraordinarily small, he said.

The crop will be down from last year and down from the prior year which, at around 12 million tray equivalents, was the largest in about a decade, Matteis said.

Total California kiwifruit acreage is considerably down from its record high  of around 12,000 acres some years back, with the total acreage currently planted being about 3,774 acres. That is, however, up about 1,000 acres from its lowest point since the decline began. Not all of that is currently producing, as it includes some new plantings yet to come into production, Matteis said.

“It looks to me like it has hit a bottom” and is now beginning to increase again, he  said. “We have seen some replacement vines. We have seen some pretty modest additional plantings, and some larger ones are going to be going in pretty soon here, too.”

Asked about consumption trends for kiwifruit in the United states, Matteis said, “It is hard to tell.” Even foreign suppliers such as the New Zealanders “have been trying to figure out the United States conundrum as far as kiwifruit goes, and I don’t know what to directly associate it to.” Purchases are “not growing by leaps and bounds” in the United States, he said, but “there is definitely strong demand that seems to be there consistently,” year after year.

“Relative to the California crop, we are not one of the larger producers in the world.” That has one benefit from a marketing standpoint, he said. “That is we have plenty of market space, it seems, for the fruit that we produce each year.”