Sustainability

RESPONSIBLE FARMING FOR MORE THAN 150 YEARS

California’s 600 prune growing families, many of them from multi-generation farms, are proud of the important role they play in their state – on the land they steward, in the communities where they live and work, and for the markets around the world for which they produce top–quality, healthy food.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to farming, California Prune growers are a diverse group that uses a range of environmentally friendly orchard management practices to produce wholesome, delicious California Prunes. Under robust regulations and changing dynamics in climate, farming and the global marketplace, California Prune growers share a commitment to continuous improvement. With the help of research and tools funded by the California Prune Board, they are learning, adapting and improving their craft to ensure they are conserving natural resources and sustaining the future of the prune industry for generations to come.

The California Difference

California Prunes are sold in more than 60 countries around the world. Simply put, they’re the best prunes in the world in terms of:

  • Flavour, quality, consistency and size
  • Environmental and socially responsible production practices
  • The most stringent food safety standards
  • An all-around premium reputation earned over many decades

With a commitment to dedicating resources toward a more sustainable environment, the California Prune industry has invested millions of dollars in production research to improve the many facets of the industry’s sustainability, including:

  • Environmentally friendly practices
  • Improving worker safety and labour costs
  • Improving prune size and quality
  • Decreasing production costs
  • Improving dehydration and processing efficiency
  • Improving consistent year-to-year production
  • Improving worker safety and labour costs

California Prune Industry’s Approach to Sustainability

California Prune growers, handlers and others in our community have unified around prioritizing:

People

Benefiting the California Prune community and delivering health and wellbeing to consumers.

The industry strives to do right by those who power it. Providing fair wages and labour practices, along with competitive benefits, the California Prune community does its part to uphold and protect the health and safety of all involved while providing consistent employment opportunities. Additionally, California Prunes are a healthy, nutritious fruit that has no added sugar and offers important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that support favorable gut, bone and heart health — supporting nutrition security to all who enjoy them.

Planet

Beginning in the orchards with environmental protection of the land, air and water.

The California Prune industry cares deeply about its impact on the environment. For growers, the land they steward is where their families live and work — many with hopes of passing down their prune orchards to the next generation. Both growers and handlers have come together to implement thoughtful and scientifically based practices to ensure orchard management and prune processing is helping to preserve and benefit the planet — all while producing a healthy and delicious product. From machine harvesting that uses canvases to catch prunes and reduce dust in the air, to solar arrays that pump water, generate electricity or circulate air in the dryers, the California Prune industry is always innovating for the protection of the planet.

Prosperity

Creating economic viability and business resilience to keep growing California Prunes for future generations.

Consistency in production, driven by rigorous agricultural standards, and superior taste is keeping the demand for California Prunes strong. California Prune growers and handlers generate more than $717 million in business activity within the state, according to a recent economic impact study. Of this business activity, a large proportion (44.3%) is represented as additional business across many economic sectors of the state.

Sustainability in Practice

California Prune growers’ farming practices vary from farm to farm and year to year. Depending on weather conditions, soil quality, pests and other variables, they observe and adapt as needed to produce a top-quality crop.

Smart Pest Control

Operating in California, a state with stringent pesticide regulations, California Prune growers use Integrated Pest Management as an ecosystem-based approach to pest management, minimizing risks to people, and benefiting plants, animals and the overall environment

Cover Crops

California Prune growers use cover crops to help maintain nutrient-dense soil and improve irrigation efficiency.

Habitats & Biodiversity

Maintaining riparian habitats, perching owl boxes among the trees to help keep pests from invading the orchard and leveraging apiaries for crop pollination are just a few ways that California Prune growers work in partnership with nature on their family farms.

Soil Health Improvement

Combining beneficial bacteria into their orchard soil, while also incorporating nitrogen through a double-line drip irrigation system, California Prune growers improve their soil health to keep trees healthy and productive.

Renewable Energy

Using renewable energy is top of mind in prune production. California Prune growers and handlers have made significant investments in solar energy to decrease carbon energy use in their daily operations.

Water Conservation

Using precise micro-irrigation systems, California Prune growers have reduced water usage on their farms. California farmers are required to work with their communities on local management of water.

Life Cycle Assessment

In a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the production of California Prunes conducted by U.C. Davis, computer modeling systems analyzed inputs and yields used in prune-growing regions to quantify the industry’s effect on global warming.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In partnership with the Foreign Agriculture Service/USDA Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops grant program, the California Prune Board has led two efforts aimed at containing and limiting GHG emissions from fumigants used in production and shipment of agricultural products.

Shelf Stability

California Prunes go from orchards to nearby climate-controlled drying tunnels, resulting in a shelf-stable product that doesn’t require refrigeration. This lessens environmental impact from transport, storage and waste as compared to fresh produce.

Fair Wages

The industry strives to provide fair wages and labour practices. Recognizing that the health and safety of those involved with the industry is of utmost importance, most growers, producers and processors offer medical benefits for employees. As of 2022, wages averaged $17.25/hour, with overtime pay required after 40 hours of work per week.

Varietal Research

The California Prune industry is making significant long-term investments in developing new varietals that are designed to improve efficiencies in harvesting, pruning and drying time. These improvements will reduce costs and prepare for the future through diversification.

Economic Impact

As of 2021, California Prune growers and handlers were spending more than $391.5 million locally on employee wages and benefits and purchase a wide array of goods and services needed for operations. As a result, they return a substantial portion of the revenues they generate back into the state.

Continual Improvement: A Timeline

California Prune Growers in Action

Natalie Mariani of the Mariani Family in Vacaville utilizes a water purification plant to recycle water waste to irrigate their orchards and reduce water use by 8 million gallons.
John Taylor, co-owner of Taylor brothers farms in Yuba City, injects nitrogen into the soil to improve soil health and has also experimented with beneficial bacteria most out of his land and prune trees.
Sandra Mitchell, co-owner of Mitchell ranch in Yuba City, has invested in solar arrays to provide energy for all major electric needs.
Ranvir Singh of feather River farms in Marysville conserves energy and fuel by allowing the grasses to grow in his orchard which helps capture carbon and clean the air.
Joe Turkovich of Winters perches owl boxes in his orchards to keep critters under control.