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Larger sizes due to additional irrigation
California lemon season transitions to desert region
Lemons are grown in California practically all year round. Right now as Fall season takes hold and the summer heat fades, the growing regions that border the desert are beginning their lemon crop, taking over from the cooler climes.
"Right now, we are transitioning from the end of the 'D2' into the 'D3' growing regions," said Russell Takahashi, of Allied Avocados and Citrus. "D2 takes in the coastal growing regions, like San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. D3 is on the desert fringe, including Riverside and Imperial counties and that will begin from mid-October. At this time of year, most growers have the Eureka and Lisbon lemons in production."
Yield steady, but growers facing higher costs
In terms of yield, the summer has seen production close to average but Takahashi explained that the heat has lead to an increase in costs to growers. "The summer was hot, but yield is close to the average. Lemons have not been affected in the way oranges and some other citrus fruit has. The problem is that growers required extra irrigation which had a twofold effect on fruit growth as well as increase production costs," Takahashi said.
"The extra water in the fruit has resulted in larger sizes. This can be good and bad because, while larger fruit is more desirable to customers, conversely if they become too large, we're not able to sell them," he continued.
US growers blame imports for plummeting market price
California lemon growers face large price fluctuations throughout the year. This is largely due to the fact that the season is year-round and imports weigh in on pricing at various times of the year. According to Takahashi, US-based growers have to compete with the imports on price and have seen the price plummet over the past 4 weeks.
"Customer demand is very strong, as it is for most of the year. But local growers are struggling more now as imports commence. The current price for a carton has dropped to around $20, which is less than half of what it was a month ago," Takahashi said. "There is intense competition from imports and they have a negative impact on American lemon growers. Local farmers have yet to see any movement on the NAFTA renegotiation that was promised at the start of the year."
For more information:
Allied Avocados and Citrus
Tel: +1 (805) 625-7155
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