Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual (CCM) announced that the California Navel Orange Objective Measurement Report is anticipating 86 million 40 pound cartons of navels, or 3.4 billion pounds of Navel Oranges. 83 million of those cartons are expected to come out of the Central Valley of the state.
The 86 million cartons number is an 8.5% increase over last years volume at 76 million cartons.
The government survey this month estimates there are 2,000 acres fewer than last year according to the report that was compiled by the Agricultural Statistic Service. Fruit count per tree in District is higher – up 19% from last year at 412, and 18.5% higher than the 336 fruit average per tree over the last five years.
The average fruit measured 2.248 in diameter as of September 1st, CCM says, just above the 2.230 average over the last five seasons.
CCM says the NASS acreage estimates may be ”conservative” having themselves estimated that in the past two years growers have pulled 25,000 acre of citrus of all varieties including navels largely due to lack of water.
Offsetting pulled acres is nonbearing acreage that comes into production.Last estimate for navels had some 3300 acres of young trees not yet in production of which two thirds were in Tulare County.
The good news on crop size and set may be due to timely rainfall and good growing conditions after last spring’s petal fall.
The news that the crop looks good is in stark contrast to the gloom one hears over the drought particularly in Tulare County were little surface water has been available for irrigation for two years running.
CCM’s president Joel Nelsen says farmers suffered big time this year when the port strike kept local exports from reaching markets in the far east hurting returns.
On the plus side, the new sugar standard is expected to help early sales of fruit this holiday season as consumers enjoy their first taste of the season with sweeter fruit.