California navel harvest start depends on fruit maturity

10/11/2012 06:57:00 AM
Tom Burfield

South African navels were selling for mostly $20-$22 for 15-kilogram containers of size 40-56, $20 for 64s and $18-$20 for 72s.

F.o.b.s of 7/10-bushel cartons of shippers’ first grade California valencia oranges were mostly $9.73-$11.75 for size 48-56s and $10.73-12.75 for 72s.

Retailers and consumers can look forward to good-quality navels as the season kicks off, said Mike Keeline, salesman for Bravante Produce, Reedley, Calif., which is in its third season with Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Sunkist Growers Inc.

“The size looks good,” Keeline said.

“Overall, our (oranges) appear to be a little bit larger than last year.”

Volume at Bravante Produce should be up 10% over last year. The company expects to start shipping in early November and continue into June.

Fred Berry, director of marketing for Mulholland Citrus in Orange Cove, was hoping for cooler temperatures in October and maybe even some rain to help trigger color change and speed up maturity.

He expects the company to start shipping navels in late October, at least a week ahead of last year. But that will depend on the weather.

“We would like to see some fall,” he said.

August and September, which had many days in the 100- to 105-degree range, may have set records for average daily temperatures, he said.

Fortunately, nighttime temperatures dropped significantly, and that’s beneficial for the oranges, Berry said.

Some forecasters are predicting El Niño conditions this year, which could trigger more rain than usual, he added.

Rick Eastes, vice president and general manager for Seald Sweet West International Inc., Dinuba, Calif., anticipates larger-size navels this year than last.

He expects to see normal sizes of 88s to 113s early in the season and 56s and 72s as the year progresses.

Conditions already were starting to become more fall-like in the Orange Cove area, Jacobson said.

“We seem to be seeing some growth as the heat starts to back off a little bit, the nights are a little longer and getting a little bit cooler,” he said.

“The trees are waking up.”


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