Grape Industry Suffers Significant Crop Loss Due to Tropical Storm Hilary


California’s grape industry takes a huge loss in the aftermath of tropical storm Hilary. According to the California Farm Bureau Ag Alert, heavy rains and strong winds to vineyards during the peak of harvest season last month affected over one-third of unharvested grapes, the equivalent of approximately 25 million boxes.

One longtime Kern County grape grower told the Farm Bureau, “This [storm] was just really bad,” “It was a lot of water, and it was bad timing.” Hilary struck right at the peak of harvest.

Some experts suggest the losses could be even higher, possibly exceeding 60 million boxes. This significant loss of grape crops could result in lower supplies and higher prices for U.S. consumers, as nearly all of the country’s table grapes are grown in California, particularly in Kern and Tulare counties, accounting for 83% of production.

While efforts are made to salvage remaining grapes, the extensive losses will likely impact farmworkers and communities that rely on grape harvesting for their livelihoods.

Crop insurance may cover a portion of losses. Still, many growers are suspected to be underinsured or uninsured, potentially resulting in significant financial setbacks for multi-generational family farms in the region. 

Almond growers in the San Joaquin Valley also experienced substantial losses due to the storm, impacting the agricultural industry and communities across the region.

In addition, the storm damaged some wine grapes, tree crops, and alfalfa.

Hilary was downgraded from a hurricane by the time it reached California on Aug. 21, yet still brought more than a year’s worth of rain to some areas.



Photo/Todd Snider: Table grapes damaged by Tropical Storm Hilary hang in a vineyard. The storm hit during peak harvest, destroying an estimated one-third of the unharvested crop, with some growers losing entire vineyards.