Valley farmers celebrate beginning of fig harvest

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Thursday, August 3, 2017
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California grows most of the figs in the country and Madera and Merced Counties produce the most for the entire state

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As the sun rises over Madera County, you can find fresh figs getting picked at the peak of perfection.

The booming industry is seeing a rise in demand as culinary trends are breathing new life into an old favorite.

"I guess you can say we're one of the darlings of the food industry right now," farmer Kevin Herman said. "People are rediscovering figs."

In addition to their sweet and savory flavor, their nutritional value is also a draw.

"They're high in fiber, a great source of antioxidants, calcium, and potassium," Herman's wife Diane said.

California produces all of the nation's dried figs and 98 percent of the fresh figs - with Merced and Madera as the industry hub. From the fig orchards to the packing house, the fig industry represents roughly 700 full-time workers.

Specialty Crop Company owners Kevin and Diane Herman say though most are familiar with dry figs, over the last decade the fresh fig market has blossomed.

Thanks to this year's rain fall and a cooler spring, this year's crop is bigger and juicier than ever.

"It's just amazing, the trees are so much happier," Kevin said. "The young trees, in particular, look like they've got an extended period of harvest, so I think well have fresh fruit for quite some time this year."

Family owned and operated since 1989, the Specialty Crop Company farms 3,500 acres of fig varieties.

"As an industry, our production is fairly stable," Kevin said. "So, with the demand going up, prices are going up. It's a little bit, but hopefully quality will be well worth the price."

You can find the Specialty Crop Company's fresh figs at stores like Save Mart, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods.