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OPENING DAY OF 1992 TABLE GRAPE CROP SET FOR MAY 20

 OPENING DAY OF 1992 TABLE GRAPE CROP SET FOR MAY 20
 FRESNO, Calif., May 18, 1992 -- The opening day of the 1992


California fresh grape season is set for May 20 with the arrival of fresh grapes to markets and grocery stores across the nation and throughout the world.
 Industry experts estimate that due to near-perfect growing conditions, the 1992 fresh grape crop may top more than 62.5 million boxes or more than 1.4 billion pounds of grapes.
 Over the past 20 years, fresh grapes have become one of the most popular fruits among consumers with more than 7 pounds of grapes per person consumed annually in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, since 1970, consumption of fresh grapes in the United States has increased by 212 percent.
 Grape popularity is also rising in the overseas markets and for the seventh year in a row, the California fresh grape industry has established a new export record. For the 1991 season, more than 7.5 million boxes or 172 million pounds of fresh grapes were exported to offshore markets. Since 1984, exports of California grapes to offshore markets has increased by 208 percent and the value of those exports has increased by 233 percent. Approximately 14 percent of the California fresh grape harvest is directed to offshore export markets.
 "We're looking forward to a strong season in 1992," said Bruce Obbink, president of the California Table Grape Commission. "We've had the kind of weather that lends itself to outstanding fruit growth which will help us meet the incredible growing demand for our product."
 More than 97 percent of the nation's table grapes are grown in California. Boasting the longest picking season of any summer fruit, the harvest will begin, as always, in southern California's Coachella Valley and will eventually progress north to the San Joaquin Valley where it will last until February.
 Following tradition, the first grapes ready for the 1992 harvest is the Perlette variety which thrives in the high heat and low humidity of the Coachella Valley. The Perlettes will soon be followed by 12 other distinct varieties including such favorites as Thompson Seedless, Flame Seedless and the Emperor.
 The California Table Grape Commission is the promotional arm of the California fresh grape industry, representing all of the state's more than 800 table grape farmers.
 -0- 5/18/92
 /CONTACT: Kathleen Nave of the California Table Grape Commission, 209-224-4997/ CO: California Table Grape Commission ST: California IN: FOD SU:


CK -- NY032 -- 1262 05/18/92 11:10 EDT
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Date:May 18, 1992
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