Mandarins grow in California for Wonderful Citrus, which markets the Halos brands. ( Courtesy Wonderful Citrus )

California citrus suppliers and marketers say they will have ample volumes to market in the fall, even if the numbers fall a bit short of last year.

“Hopefully, it will be almost as good as last year, which was a tremendous citrus year, marketwise, across the board, for oranges, mandarins, grapefruit and lemons,” said Doug Hemly, owner of Courtland, Calif.-based grower-shipper Greene & Hemly Inc.

“I don’t think we can expect it to be that good every year, but I believe the overall the crop is going to be bigger. There will be plenty of fruit. Hopefully, we’ll be able to market it similarly to last year. That would be fantastic for growers.”

California citrus producers for the 2017-18 season had a very positive year as it relates to net revenue per acre, said Joel Nelsen, president of the Exeter-based California Citrus Commission.

“Whether you were a lemon, mandarin or navel orange producer, the season featured excellent quality, great flavor and therefore positive revenues,” he said.

Preliminary worries about the upcoming navel season were unfounded, Nelsen said.

“At the outset of the navel season, we were concerned about too small a crop and fruit that was too large.  Those worries proved to be of no concern,” he said.

Hemly said California’s summer heat had not affected the crop through late July.

The main season will pick up in November and December, and tango and murcott tangerines take over for the winter, he said.

“It should be another good mandarin year,” Hemly said, adding that early clementines were looking good and should start in October.

Early navels will ship in later October, with “good supplies available,” Hemly said.

Hemly said his company is coming off one of the best navel seasons in memory.

“Hopefully, we can keep that trend going,” he said.

The big concern across California is keeping huanglongbing (HLB) out of commercial groves, and, so far, the industry has been able to do that, Hemly said.

“There’s been some detections down in the Los Angeles area; several trees have tested positive, but nothing so far in the commercial areas in the Southern California desert or in the Central Valley, where I am,” he said.

“We’re trying to keep this Asian citrus psyllid population down.”

The Asian citrus psyllid is the vector that spreads HLB.

“I think we’re being a little more proactive than other countries and other areas. We learn from some of their mistakes and, hopefully, it will pay off for us to keep HLB out of here,” Hemly said.

Fresno, Calif.-based Trinity Fruit Sales Co. Inc. expects to pack plenty of Cuties mandarins, beginning in late October, said Levon Ganajian, retail relations director.

“We’ll have some satsumas before that,” he said.

“We’ll go all the way until May. We’re seeing a lot of interest. We don’t see any end to the demand for mandarins.”

Starting next year, Trinity will have a year-round mandarin program, Ganajian said.

Meanwhile, Delano, Calif.-based Wonderful Citrus LLC is expecting a big year out of its Halos-branded mandarin program.

“We’re expecting growth,” said Adam Cooper, vice president of marketing.

Clementines should begin in November and go through December, with murcotts following in January, Cooper said.

“We’ve had some extreme heat this past month or so,” Cooper said of growing conditions.

“Everything is OK. we’ll know more when we get closer to the harvest. We had our best season last year for Halos, and we’re expecting an even bigger year this year.” 

 
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