Prunes are ready for harvest by August. The fruit is shaken from the tree mechanically, collected, and transferred into field picking bins for them to be cleaned and dried.

The prunes are then transported to the prune dehydrator where they are dumped into a tank of water where the leaves are separated from the prunes. Theys are spread across wooden trays and stacked 7 ft. high. Then they are transferred into the drying tunnels in which they will stay for 24 hours. The moister level is dropped from 50% to 20%.


Prune comes from Latin a prunum, a "plum." Prunum was borrowed into the Germanic languages at a very early date, before the Anglos and Saxons settled in Britain.

Thus, these orchards produce fruit with maximum flavor, ideal fruit size, fine texture, high sugar content, and smooth small pits - all characteristics inherent in high quality dried prunes.

Dried prune varieties can be dried without fermenting while still containing the pits. This is not true of all varieties of prunes. The California dried prune is an offshoot of La Petite d'Agen, a native of Southwest France. At maturity, it has a royal purple outer skin and amber colored flesh.

Today, there are more than 80,000 high production acres concentrated in the Sacramento, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Napa and San Joaquin Valleys. Currently, these acres produce more than twice as many dried prunes as the rest of the world combined: approximately 99 percent of the U.S. supply and 70 percent of the world supply.

Other commercial varieties produced in California are Imperials, Robes de Sergeant, Sugar, and other varieties, all of which constitute less than one percent of the state's production. 


Mighty California Dried Prunes

California is the world's largest producer of dried prunes, supplying 70 percent of the world's supply and 99 percent of U.S. supply.

Monkey Business

In 1905, a labor shortage in California resulted in farmers turning to monkeys to harvest dried plums. 

The Dried Prune Capital of the World

Yuba and Sutter counties are home to one-third of the prune acreage in California. In 1988, Yuba City, Calif., started the annual California Dried Prune Festival where 30,000 visitors learn about the dried prune industry and taste famed recipes like Dried Prune Chili and Dried Prune Ice Cream.

A Golden Dried Prune

In 1856, during the Gold Rush, the La Petite d'Agen prune was brought from France to California by brothers Louis and Pierre Pellier. The plant was grafted with the wild American Plum and the California dried prune was born.