Big navel crop spells good season-long supplies

10/27/2010 03:09:14 PM
Don Schrack

Valhalla Sales & Marketing Co., Visalia, is traditionally among the latest to offer navels, said Steve Nelsen, co-owner.

“We don’t have any early, early varieties,” he said. “We’ll probably begin shipping about Dec. 1.”

The volume of organic navels from Sunkist Growers also should be up this season. One reason for the increase is new acreage that has transitioned from conventional to organic, Smith said.

Harvest of organic navels will not likely begin before mid-December, she said, and sizes will be similar to conventional navels, slightly smaller than the 2009-10 crop.

Grower-shippers are winding down their valencia seasons. Most will have the fruit through October and some into early November, they said.

California’s traditional summer orange crop is becoming a smaller and smaller player in the citrus game.

“It’s a great tasting piece of fruit,” said Mike Wootton, senior vice president for corporate relations and administration for Sunkist Growers. “The problem for the valencia has been the fact that there’s so much competing product, not just citrus, but everything else that’s in the marketplace today as well as all the Southern Hemisphere production.”

Wileman Bros. & Elliott will have valencias at least until the start of its navel harvest, Felts said.

Fans of minneolas will have to wait until late in the year to find California-grown fruit on market shelves.

Valhalla Sales & Marketing could have limited supplies of minneolas the last week in December, Nelsen said. Sunkist Growers is scheduled to begin harvesting the desert crop of minneolas the week of Dec. 13, Smith said. The desert crop’s volume is down as much as 30%, she said.

The variety grown in other regions of California will reach maturity after the first of the year, grower-shippers said, with volume about the same as last season.

Wileman Bros. & Elliott expects its minneola harvest to begin in February, Felts said. January is the target start for Sunkist’s nondesert minneola crops, Smith said.

The harvest is expected to continue at least through February.


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