Valley raisin growers prepared for rain

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's the most valuable raisin crop in history, and it doesn't look like the rain is going to do too much damage.

Ryan Jacobsen of the Fresno County Farm Bureau says it's because growers had plenty of warning the rain was coming.

"No, we were very fortunate with the National Weather Service and the local media that this has been projected for quite some time."

The traditional way of harvesting raisins has them laid on pieces of paper on the ground to dry. A heavy rain can splash dirt on the raisins before they are rolled up and interfere with drying and processing. But Rick Stark, of Sun-Maid Growers, says nearly all of this year's crop is safe.

"So far 70 to 80 percent of the crop is already protected its either been picked up and boxed and out of the field or it's rolled so that its covered and protected. "

And, Stark notes it will take a heavy rain to damage the raisins still drying.

"Traditionally we figure it takes a quarter of an inch of rain to do any damage and we are not anywhere close to that."

Additionally, newer techniques have more raisins drying on the vine, meaning the rain is less of a concern. There are 150,000 acres of raisins in Fresno County, about half of what there was 20 years ago. Jacobsen says demand is up and as a result prices are at a record of more than $2,200 a ton. Up to $400 from last year.

"The raisin prices look fantastic this year it's actually looking to be the all time high and so obviously farmers want to do everything they can to protect that valuable crop "
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