California navel oranges, which traditionally start shipping around Nov. 1, are on track for another high-volume year.
But there could be fewer to go around than in the last deal, which ended in mid-July.
“The consensus is the navel crop will be smaller than last year, but everybody’s got a slightly different answer as to how much,” said Bob Blakely, director of industry relations for Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual.
“We’re coming off one of the heaviest crops in history,” he said. “We’re probably going to meet or slightly exceed the estimate of 93 million cartons.”
A wet and extended bloom marked spring in the orange groves.
“Fresno County was quite a bit behind Kern County,” Blakely said.
“I think we’ll see the maturities stretch out. It’ll be interesting to see how our fall season turns out. A cooler than normal spring could affect fruit set as well.”
Claire Smith, director of corporate communications for Sunkist Growers, Sherman Oaks, Calif., said in July that while it’s too early to tell, talk in the industry was of a possible 10% to 20% drop in navel volume.
“The sizing will probably be bigger on average,” said Rick Osterhues, vice president of sales and marketing for Lindsay, Calif.-based LoBue Citrus.
“But it does look like it’s going to be a smaller crop for navels.”
Valencias will finish sometime in September. They’re expected to be a 20-million carton crop.
No estimate had been made for mandarin-type oranges as of the first week of August, Blakely and Smith said.
“Looking at the available acreage, there doesn’t appear to be much of an increase in clementines versus w. murcotts,” Smith said.
“Because most new plantings are w. murcott or tango, expectations are for an increase in those varieties this season. However, at this point little is known with regard to crop set.”
Satsumas and fairchild tangerines should start up in October, Smith said, while clementines could start in November.
Ilene Weeks, general manager of K&W Farms in Coachella, Calif., reports a lighter lemon crop this season.
“I keep hearing across the board that production is down but size is up,” Weeks said.
“With decreased production in Mexico, Chile and Arizona due to recent winter freezes, we are hoping for strong demand,” she said.
If weather permits, lemon harvests are expected to begin mid-September in Coachella.
As July ended, Visalia, Calif.-based The Chuck Olsen Co. reported it would start shipping seedless lemons within a month. They’re sourced from the San Joaquin Valley and supply is expected to run through February.
The Chuck Olsen Co. made the announcement at the Produce Marketing Foodservice Conference in Monterey, Calif. The company also plans to market a lemon deal out of Indio, Calif.
Pummelos, grapefruit-like but sweeter, start in October.
Cara caras seem to be holding their own.
“There’s not much information yet on the cara caras, but even with a lighter set, the crop could still be similar or up slightly due to the amount of young acreage coming into production,” Smith said.