California is gearing up for its Kishu mandarin harvest.
“Supplies are tight. We haven’t started picking the Kishus yet,” says Madalyn McCracken of Reedley, Ca.-based Ripe to You. Kishu mandarins are a golf ball-sized mandarin that are sweet and easy to peel and sold for Ripe to You under the Lil’ Ninja Mandarins label.
McCracken says it’s still waiting for the flavor and color to develop on its mandarins, grown in California’s Orange Cove growing region. “We’ve been constantly checking quality and growth progress in the field to see when they are ready for harvest based on size, color and flavor,” she notes. “It’s definitely the waiting game! We’re ready to go, but we know that we have to wait on the fruit to hit its peak flavor. Mother Nature takes her time, so we have to, too.” The fruit is on track to be harvested mid-November.
At the same time, competing mandarins are coming in from other regions. “We’re still competing with our retail partner’s inventory of citrus from the Southern Hemisphere,” she adds.
That said, she adds that the Kishus are a variety sought after by higher-end grocery stores. “We’ve had great feedback on our 1 lb. bag with a new Giro design and we look forward to the consumer’s reaction to it,” she says.
Meanwhile McCracken anticipates that pricing on this variety will likely push higher. “Pricing on Kishu mandarins trends higher than other mandarins because they require more delicate hand-picking and the higher labor costs are reflected in the price,” she adds. “That’s a challenge—already high labor costs continue to increase each season.”