Larger California citrus crop predicted
January 14, 2008
• Forecasters revise estimates upward
• The navel season off to a good start
Revised estimates of California citrus-fruit production show that harvests will be larger than originally expected.
A year ago, most of California’s navel orange crop was wiped out with severe damage to lemons and even some Valencia orange groves following several days of freezing temperatures. The dollar loss was estimated at more than $900 million.
The new report revises upward production estimates for oranges, lemons, tangerines and grapefruit.
The 2007-2008 California navel orange forecast is 96 million cartons, up 12 percent from the October forecast and up 41 percent from last season's crop, says the National Agricultural Statistics Service report.
The navel season got off to a good start with above average yields and good fruit color, maturity, and sugar content, the report says.
Most of California’s navel crop is grown in the Central Valley.
Markets slowed a bit earlier in the season, but have been gaining momentum. Supplies remain plentiful and quality remains good, the report says.
The 2007-2008 Valencia orange forecast is 30 million cartons, unchanged from the October forecast, but up 36 percent from last season’s crop.
Growers are expecting a better year for Valencia oranges than in 2007. Damage to trees from the 2007 freeze has had an effect on this year's production, but recovery has been significant in many groves, the NASS report says.
The crop has been progressing normally thus far.
The 2007-2008 California lemon forecast is 34 million cartons, 6 percent above last season’s final production and up 3 percent from the October forecast. Picking is taking place in all growing regions of California, but picking is light, according to the latest report.
Demand for lemons has exceeded supply for some grades. Volumes should improve later this month as picking in the Central Valley gains momentum. Volumes nonetheless are expected to remain below average.
The 2007-2008 California tangerine forecast (including mandarins and tangelos) is 10.2 million cartons. Production is 76 percent above last season’s crop and up 9 percent from the October forecast.
Harvest has been progressing well and the outlook is good for California mandarins, with quality good to excellent, the NASS report says.
Satsuma and Fairchild varieties are still being harvested, while the Clementine harvest is about over. Growers are just beginning to harvest the Minneola variety of tangelos.
The 2007-2008 California grapefruit forecast is 10 million cartons, 11 percent above the October forecast and up 25 percent from last season’s crop.