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California: Navel oranges large and delicious, but not enough to go round

This year, California citrus growers are very happy with the look and taste of their king-sized navel oranges. Unfortunately, there are just not enough of them.

Joel Nelsen, president of the California Citrus Mutual: “This is one of the smallest [navel orange] crops in the last 20 years. There’s much less fruit on the trees.” The size of the individual navel oranges is unusually large, but growers are seeing a lot fewer oranges than normal. The season will be short, with growers running out of fruit weeks before usual cut-off dates.

A www.sacbee.com article refers to estimates by the California Department of Food and Agriculture: the average fruit set per navel orange tree was 273, down from 348 the previous season; a 21% drop. Nelsen expects the final crop total to be down 30% from normal. “We anticipate that prices will be a little higher.”

Coincidentally; California, the nation’s long-time leader in fresh citrus, recently became America’s No. 1 citrus state overall. The state now has surpassed Florida, a state hard hit by disease and weather.


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