The continuous tray method mechanizes grape picking and raisin collecting. Former UC Davis scientists Harold Olmo and Henry Studer and raisin grower Earl Rocca aiming to reduce labor costs developed it. Though Rocca has been using the continuous tray method since the 1970s, interest in this method has increased substantially in the last decade as wages and other costs associated with farm labor (e.g. workers' compensation insurance) were beginning to erode the already small profit margins of producing raisins. This trend is likely to continue due to labor shortages throughout the grape industry.
Raisin growers considering the move to continuous tray production have been looking for science-based information that shows costs on a per acre basis. Both UC studies identify the cost of producing continuous tray raisins, taking into account the purchase of used harvesting equipment to be upgraded or taking advantage of new harvesting equipment designed for continuous-tray raisin production.
The two studies - "Sample Costs to Produce Raisins on a Continuous Tray," one using used or refurbished equipment, the other using new equipment - are intended as guides to help make production decisions, determine potential returns, prepare budgets and evaluate production loans. The studies are based on hypothetical farms using practices common in the San Joaquin Valley. UCCE farm advisors, growers, pest control advisers and other agricultural associates provided input and reviews.
Assumptions used to identify current costs for production operations, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead are described in the studies. Tables in the studies show establishment costs, profits over a range of prices and yields, monthly cash costs, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs.
The cost studies were prepared by Stephen Vasquez, UCCE farm advisor, Fresno County; Matthew Fidelibus, UCCE viticulture specialist; Peter Christensen, UCCE viticulture specialist emeritus; Bill Peacock, UCCE farm advisor, Tulare County; and Karen A. Klonsky, UCCE economist, and Richard De Moura, staff research associate, UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics.
The studies can be downloaded free from the Web at coststudies.ucdavis.edu. The studies are also available from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, and from local UCCE offices.
Similar reports are available for many commodities from 1931 to the present. A $3 handling fee is charged. For more call (530) 752-3589 or (530) 752-1517.