Courtesy LoBue CitrusOfficials with LoBue Citrus expect to begin shipping Heritage Reserve navel oranges Feb. 20. The 12-week program will be nationwide this year.UPDATED Feb. 1:The second season for LoBue Citrus’ Heritage Reserve navel oranges is set to start Feb. 20, according to the Lindsay, Calif.-based citrus company.
LoBue Citrus officials said the limited-run navel program should keep retailers supplied through April. Rick Osterhues, vice president of sales and marketing said this year’s 12-week program should see four times as many Heritage Reserve navels shipped as were in 2011.
“Last year was the first year to segregate these out,” Osterhues said Jan. 31. “We limited ourselves to just a few markets.”
For the 2012 season, LoBue is shipping the navels nationwide, partly because of the response from retailers last year in Seattle, Chicago and New Orleans.
“The response from return customers has been fantastic,” Osterhues said. “They may have only participated four or five weeks last year, but their customers responded so well they are planning a full 12-week program this year.”
Last year, some retailers who carried Heritage Reserve saw a significant boost in their navel category. From January to April 2010, one Northwest retailer who offered Heritage Reserve in bulk increased total navel orange category sales by 35%. Another retailer, in the Southeast, reported sales 80% over expectations in both bagged and bulk fruit, according to LoBue Citrus.
Heritage Reserve navals are not gassed for color. They come from a sub-section of LoBue’s groves that were first planted between 1898 and 1960 and have never been replanted.
Osterhues said he believes the original Washington-variety budwood and the unique growing climate of the 20-mile-long area adjacent to the western foothills of Sequoia National Park where the groves are planted give the Heritage Reserve navels an unusually sweet flavor.
This year’s crop is trending toward medium to small sizes, Osterhues said, but the size does not change the flavor.
The second season for LoBue Citrus’ Heritage Reserve navel oranges is set to start Feb. 22, according to the Lindsay, Calif.-based citrus company.
LoBue Citrus officials said in a news release the limited-run navel program should keep retailers supplied through April. Heritage Reserve navals are never gassed for color and are packed to order.
Rick Osterhues, vice president of sales and marketing, said slightly higher volumes should also be available this year, despite restricted acreage. That means LoBue can extend the Heritage Reserve program to more markets this season than in previous years, he said in the release.