If normal conditions prevail this winter, and with new maturing trees, the category could be up 10% to 15% or more across the board, he said.
Satsuma mandarin volume should be about the same or lower than last year because they tend to be more of an alternate-bearing fruit, he said.
Consumers like the easy-peel fruit, Eastes said. And that can both help and hurt the navel crop.
“As clementines have increased, there has been some cannibalization of navel demand,” he said.
But with greater availability of clementines, there’s no rush to start California navels, he said.
“The result is, we’ll probably start off with much better-eating fruit.”
SunWest Fruit Co. Inc., Parlier, Calif., will kick off its clementine program in mid- to late November, said Doug Sankey, sales manager.
He expects good quality and a similar or possibly slightly larger crop than last year. Fruit size should be normal.
Clementines will ship until mid-January, when the company will start its mandarin program of afourer and seedless tango mandarins.
The company sets out netting over all of its ranches to ensure seedless mandarins.
Grower-shippers tend to believe that there’s room for navels and the specialty varieties.
“The more choice the consumer has, the more likely they are to try different things,” Jacobson said. “Each have their own attributes.”
The mandarins are easy to peel and have good flavor, Galone said, “but navels have their own unique flavor.”
“The more one variety comes into favor, it has to, to some degree, take it away from some of the others,” he said.