A U.S. Department of Agriculture California navel volume forecast is likely skewed too high, according to a leading industry group.

About 1.6 million tons of navels will be produced in California this year, 4% less than last year, according to a Sept. 11 estimate from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

But that estimate doesn’t take into account losses from severe drought, and therefore is likely high, according to a news release from Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual.

USDA researchers had no way of knowing whether their fruit-set and limb counts this year were affected by the drought or if trees have been removed, Joel Nelsen, Citrus Mutual’s president, said in the release.

“After canvassing a significant number of producers and shippers, CCM believes the crop estimate is high,” Nelsen said. “We know acreage has been removed from production, but getting figures for a range has been difficult. We know the lack of water has affected fruit size during the growth stages, but surveying 126,000 acres is almost impossible. All of this affects the number of cartons ultimately packed.”

The 2014-15 California navels should, however, boast excellent flavor and exterior quality, Nelsen said.