The Capital Press

The harvest of table grapes in California is off to a strong start as a little more than 500,000 boxes had already been shipped as of May 20, according to USDA market data.

The season kicked off in the first week of May with initial shipments coming out of the Coachella Valley, the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission reported. Shipments from the Coachella Valley will continue into July as the harvest moves up to the San Joaquin Valley.

"California's table grape season is off to a smooth start," commission president Kathleen Nave told the Capital Press in an email. "Retail support is strong for grapes from California, with promotions set up throughout the season."

The panel has predicted growers will ship the equivalent of more than 101.6 million 19-pound boxes this season, which will run through January. That would be up from the more than 98 million boxes shipped last year.

The Golden State produces 99 percent of the commercial fresh grapes grown in the U.S. and exports to more than 60 countries. Last year, 41 percent of the total volume was sent overseas, or 57.8 million 19-pound box equivalents, the commission reported.

For more information, visit the Table Grape Commission's website, www.tablegrape.com .

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