Organic mandarins from California are steady and solid with supplies.
“Supply this year has been really strong,” says Bianca Kaprielian of Fruit World Co. Inc. in Reedley, Ca. “We’ve had good steady supplies all the way through. Last year’s crop was light but, as anticipated after a light crop, we’re seeing a heavier crop this year. It varies by variety, but we’re averaging about 20 percent heavier.”
In late 2018, Fruit World first rolled out a full season organic mandarin program. (Until now, it has only had limited varieties available.) And now, starting with Satsumas in late October/early November, Fruit World carries Clementines, Page, Tangos/Murcotts and Gold Nuggets, which go into late April, possibly early May. “This year, the sizing has been spot on,” says Kaprielian, adding that Fruit World is growing out of California’s DI or Central Valley district. “If anything, size is tipping slightly toward the larger side.”
Concerns over rain
Of course, organic production does have unique challenges. “Anytime we have rain—and we’ve had some days-long rain spells this year—we can’t use fungicides like conventional farmers and we can see that the fruit doesn’t hold up to that rain quite as well,” says Kaprielian. “We try to use organic sprays to protect the fruit before the rain comes. Or if there’ll be a week of rain, we’ll also pick a bit heavier to get more fruit off the trees beforehand than we might otherwise.”
Meanwhile, as Kaprielian says it is with all organic commodities, demand for organics is strong. “And prices have been stable throughout the season,” says Kaprielian. She does note that pricing is slightly weaker than last year when availability was more limited.
More and more fruit
Looking ahead, Kaprielian sees good volume of Tangos/Murcotts coming. “That variety is a prolific producer so fruit per tree, it produces more than other varieties. It’s also a hardy variety so even though we’re coming up to about a week of rain, I expect to see quality stay strong,” she says. That said, the Tangos/Murcott season is starting early and may end earlier than usual, opening up the market for Gold Nuggets earlier as well.