Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Grapes, including raisins, are the third largest crop in California grossing almost $6 billion in 2014. To harvest the labor intensive crop it takes thousands of workers. But as Ezra David Romero reports a new raisin grape variety bred in Central California could severely decrease that need for workers.

It takes a lot of hand labor to harvest raisins, three or more rounds of pruning, quality control and picking. And to pay those workers costs a lot of money. That’s why the raisin industry is desperately searching for a way to spend less on labor creating a larger profit margin.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The U.S. Supreme Court is ruling in favor of a Fresno raisin farmer that it is unconstitutional for a government-backed agricultural board to claim control of a third of his crop.

The ruling is a blow against a program that authorizes growers to join together to prop up market prices.

The justices say the scheme violates the Fifth Amendment by allowing the government to take the raisins without providing just compensation. The court ruled that, just like land, raisin growers must be compensated for any product taken by the government.

Flickr user Mariam - http://www.flickr.com/photos/70123617@N00/ / Creative Commons license

A new crop forecast from the USDA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture indicates this year's raisin crop could be as much as 25 percent larger than last year's.

It's expected to be the largest raisin crop since 2008, at 2.4 million tons. Last year's crop was just over 1.9 million tons. Over 200,000 acres of raisin grapes are in production this year. 

Officials say that warm weather has been good for crop development, which is a few days ahead of normal.

Forget the stock market, it would appear the best investment around might be in the back of your kitchen cupboard. An ebay merchant is offering a vintage Sun-Maid raisin box for the bargain price of $700,000. As the seller says, the diminutive piece of valley agricultural memorabilia is "a small treasury for your [sic] to keep." So far there have been 57 offers, but no sale.