Dundee’s growers normally pick navels well into January. Because of lower volume, this season, however, may not go as long, Finch said.
“With the demand this year and a smaller crop, it will be a challenge to get to the first of the year with them,” he said.
Finch said he expects to have navels through Christmas.
He said it should also be a good year to promote bagged navels.
Kevin Swords, Florida citrus sales manager for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, agreed navel demand has been strong.
“It met a window when the imports finished and before California, so we had some good promotions to meet that window,” he said. “Navels are short out there, so we look for the market to remain favorable or stabilized throughout November and December.”
Pat Rodgers, president of Greene River Marketing Inc., said he expects 35% less navel volume this season.
He said colder January and February temperatures in the central producing region hurt buds after bloom.
“A block of fruit last year that may have produced 10,000 to 12,000 boxes this year could produce 7,000 boxes,” he said in late October. “The size structure on navels will be big, though, because they are light in production.”
Rodgers said customers can expect to see firmer and stronger navel pricing after shippers in the gift fruit and fundraising markets during the summer aggressively purchased on-tree fruit.
That procurement drove the navel market up, he said.
The growers and packinghouses that DNE sells for began running hamlin oranges for fresh juicing in late October. Hamlins run through late January.