September is harvest time for California Raisin grapes, and many growers in the region are currently drying their crop on paper in the open air. Naturally, this drying process relies upon steady sunshine, which can usually be expected at this time of year in the region. Of course, the weather is never something that can be guaranteed, and light rain in the middle of the month caused nerves to heighten amongst packers.
While a small amount of rain isn’t damaging to the raisins, an excess amount of water can cause mildew to develop, and larger droplets of rain can ‘kick up’ sand among the raisins.
Raisins from California are known for their quality. The growers and packers follow strict regulations to ship out only optimum fruits. They are washed multiple times, foreign bodies such as seeds and stalks are removed, and lasers are used to avoid including any substandard sized fruits. For an industry that prides itself on top quality produce, rain can be a severe problem during the few weeks of the year that the raisins are dried in the sun.
September’s drizzle, however, did not cause any damage. The weather cleared up and any residual moisture dried in the sunshine again. Peter Meadows, MD, California Raisin Administrative Committee in the UK, said: “The rains did cause a few nerves among our growers in Fresno, but the forecast for the valley was set to increase to between 33 and 35ºC by the end of the week, so back to normal, and growers were confident that no damage was done.”