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U.S. harvest forecast shows an 8% drop

U.S. harvest forecast shows an 8% drop – Wines & Vines

A total U.S. grape crop of 5,460,450 tons has been forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is down slightly from the September I forecast and is 8 % below the 1989 production. For California, forecast figures remain the same (see Wines & Vines, October, page 14).

In the east, a rainy summer has cut crop size in several states, with the USDA forecasting a 22 % drop in the Pennsylvania crop from 1989 and a 5 % drop in New York.

David Peterson, regional extension specialist for the Finger Lakes Grape Program of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, told Wines & Vines that the crop had been light in the Finger Lakes region but quality was good. Peterson said that rainfall had been above normal but evenly distributed until torrential rains fell in early October.

“Most all Chardonnay would have been in by that time, but Riesling is going to be a mixed bag,” Peterson noted.

New York prices are strong for American types and vinifera, with some weakening on hybrids. Chardonnay and Pinot noir prices were running from $1,300 to $1,400, Riesling from $600 to $800. Hybrid prices were as low as $200 but prices for juice grapes were strong, with Concords bringing $260 to $275.

Concord prices were also strong in Ohio, according to Donniella Winchell, executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association. She reported that the crop was lighter in Ohio and the summer had been very rainy with a rainy harvest.

“The fruit is holding up better than we expected. There is some concern over bunch rot in Riesling but other vinifera are holding well.”

Winchell added that demand was far outstripping supply of vinifera and juice grapes in Ohio. She said there was some concern about the potential for winter damage because the wet fall hasn’t given the vines a chance to harden off.

On the west coast, Steve Price at Oregon State University reported scattered rain near harvest but because of light set there was very little problem with botrytis. Price expected the crop to be higher this year because of more acreage coming into production. He said prices were at or above the 1989 level, which would put both Chardonnay and Pinot noir at around the $1,000 mark.

Harvest was slow in Oregon, with Chardonnay picking just getting underway in mid-October.

In Washington, grape quality was reported very good, but with a vinifera crop of under 40,000 tons expected.

In California, a warm September saw a rush to harvest, with most picking finished by mid-October, two weeks ahead of normal in some areas. The crop in some key varietals such as Sauvignon blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon will be down because of rains during flowering in late May. Prices for most varieties-with the exception of Zinfandel which was weak-were holding fairly firm.

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