West coast Valencias start early to fill orange gap

California Valencias are getting off to an earlier start this year, by as much as four weeks.

“We actually just started packing this domestic Valencias week. We usually start the first week of June but our Navel crop just finished up last week. To fill needs for customers, we offered California Valencias as an option,” says Michael Chavez of Golden Star Citrus in Woodlake, Ca.

Chavez adds that supply looks strong on this crop and will likely to go all the way through September. “Sizing is medium to larger sizes—the small fruit looks like it’ll be a bit of a struggle,” says Chavez. “There’s a lot of medium-sized fruit and the smaller fruit is in tight supply—that market is very firm and very tight.” He also adds that the larger fruit does have a good eating quality this year with an equally good Brix level.

2017 parallels
This year’s Valencias, which is seeing California’s District One in production as well as District Two, looks similar to last year’s crop. “The pieces per tree count are comparable to last year’s,” he notes.

With the Navels wrapping up, it also looks like there could be a potential gap coming in July on navel oranges. “We did have a lighter Navel crop this year so we may come up short on bridging the gap—all signs are indicating a gap between domestic and import Navel oranges,” says Chavez. Early estimates are that the import crop won’t begin until the second or third week of June.

Demand to pick up?
In the meantime, demand for Valencias is slightly slow to kick the season off. “I think with the current California Navel prices where they are, we will see customers open up to California Valencias,” he says. “Pricing on California Valencias may be an attractive option in comparison to the current California Navel prices. It’s not a bad option to switch over to the Valencia for the savings.”

Altogether that puts Valencia pricing stronger this year than last. Chavez estimates it’s roughly 25 per cent more “We’re rolling off California Navels with some strong markets and FOBs and we expect the Valencia crop eclipse or surpass some of the pricing we saw on Navels,” he says.

Looking ahead, even as school lets out which is a time when “lunchbox” fruit such as apples and oranges can drop in demand, Chavez sees demand strengthening through May and June. “As the California Navel supply decreases the increase on demand for Valencias will definitely increase,” he says.

Michael Chavez
Golden Star Citrus
Tel: +1 (559) 564-8084

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