Cooler weather initiated an earlier start to the kumquat season in California this year. Growers began harvesting a week earlier than usual as the cooler temperatures quickened the deepening of the fruit color. Overall though, weather conditions have been favorable, particularly in the desert regions.
"Our kumquat harvest started three weeks ago, a week earlier than usual," said Monolo DuBon of Seaview. "The weather has been colder than last year which pushed the fruit to break color earlier. We are expecting volume to be close to the average this year with growth being quite consistent. If all goes well, the season is expected to last until the end of December."
Kumquats in high demand
Suppliers have seen heightened demand for kumquats, with the market price sitting at very high levels. Part of the reason is that the company's kumquat growing region is centered in the Coachella Valley which has seen very little rainfall. This is in contrast to other growing areas of California such as Ventura County, where there has been more rain lately.
"Demand is very high, especially right now when we are seeing rainfall in the northern growing regions," DuBon observed. "Kumquats are very susceptible to damage and other quality issues stemming from rainfall. Since the start of the season, there has been no rainfall in the desert regions. With less overall supply in the market, we are therefore seeing very strong demand and high prices - higher than they were at this time last year."
More acreage in the pipeline
In addition to launching a new package for kumquats, Seaview are in the process of increasing production by adding acreage and replacing older trees. According to DuBon, the demand for kumquats continues to grow each year and the company wants to stay ahead of that demand by increasing their volume.
"Because of the high demand, we are putting more trees in the ground," he shared. "We are also replacing older trees which are now 25 to 30 years old, by progressively replanting with newer trees. From next year, we are expecting to have more production as some of the newer trees mature and carry a larger fruit set."