Washington Concord juice grape growers expect to harvest about 194,000 tons of fruit in 2016, up from last year’s drought-stunted crop but just below the 10-year average.
That’s according to Trent Ball at his “State of the Grapes” presentation today (Nov. 11) at the Washington State Grape Society annual meeting in Grandview, Washington. Ball, an agriculture instructor at Yakima Valley College, has been contracted by the Grape Society to give growers an industry snapshot of wine and juice grapes at the annual meeting since 2007.
For juice grape growers, the 2016 season brought a few slivers of good news to an industry that has had several years of bad — low cash prices due to sagging demand and oversupply.
For one, cash prices inched up from $110 to $120 in the past year, though they remain in a down cycle way below the 2012 spike of $280. Ball expects cash prices to go up more next year as acreage and production drops in both Washington and the Eastern United States growing regions.
“Next year I hope to come back with really awesome news,” he quipped. “I’ll try my best.”
Washington is the nation’s leading Concord juice grape producer, representing an estimated 42 percent of the 2016 U.S. production. New York is the second largest with an anticipated 137,000 tons, well above its 10-year average.
Washington’s anticipated wine grape production — 258,000 tons — is expected to increase for the sixth time in seven years. California, by comparison, is expected to produce 3.9 million tons, while some speculate the nation’s leading producer may crack the 4 million mark.