Early start for valencias? California hopes so

05/31/2012 02:50:00 PM
Tom Burfield

Oviedo, Fla.-based Duda Farm Fresh Foods should finish up its late California navels by early June and continue with lemons through the summer, when Mexico will start, said Paul Huckabay, Western citrus sales manager.

Conditions were favorable for a nice lemon crop, he said, with an even distribution of sizes.

Valencia oranges seem to be regaining popularity after suffering a big dropoff about 10 years ago, Galone said.

Consumers became so enamored with imported navels that it “changed the valencia deal dramatically,” he said.

“It didn’t make sense to keep valencias.”

Growers started pulling out the marginal and non-producing trees and replaced them with clementines, mandarins or other entirely different crops.

“There just wasn’t a demand for them,” he said.

After culling the low-quality, low-producing trees, the industry was left with some very high-quality valencias with only a few seeds, Galone said.

“If you haven’t tasted a valencia recently, you haven’t tasted a valencia,” he said.

Booth Ranches ships more than 1 million cartons of valencias a year, and has achieved a following among domestic and export buyers, he said.

Consumers find valencias to be a reasonably priced alternative to high-priced imported navels during the summer, he said.

Some retailers merchandise bulk imported navels along with value-priced bags of domestic valencias, he said.


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