The Mexican lemon season is in full swing, and the lemons are looking to be of good quality, though the overall sizing on the market is slightly small. For Pacific Organic Produce, they held off on their harvest to give their lemons more time to grow a bit larger. Delilah Romo, commodity sales specialist for the company, shares: “We were set to start harvesting toward the end of July/early August, but as we performed crop analysis and forecasts, we found the fruit wasn’t cooperating in size. Lemons were trending smaller than our liking, so we decided to hold off for two weeks to allow the fruit to size up a bit more.”
New program out of Sonora
The company’s Sonoran lemon program is a new one, and they are working with one of the largest growers in the region. “This new program adds up to 100+ loads of organic lemons to our lineup. These are young trees which are expected to yield more year after year as they mature, so the volume will only continue to increase,” says Romo. Pacific Organic Produce currently distributes their lemons throughout the US and Canada.
Strong market for large sizes
The lemon market in the US is currently a bit short on the larger lemon sizes. “As all marketers of Mexican lemons are struggling with a plethora of small fruit, the market remains strong in large retail lemons, such as 95s,” Romo shares.
One of the reasons that the market is seeing plentiful supplies of smaller lemons is due to the weather this spring. “Pre-season weather was a bit rough. While the trees were blooming, they experienced a freeze and this combined with the lack of rain in the spring were contributors to the excess of small fruit we are now experiencing in many regions, not just Sonora,” Romo explains. Fortunately, the weather during the harvest has been optimal so far: “We haven’t seen high levels of humidity which in turn has allowed us to pick at a good pace,” she adds.
Keeping inventories fresh and workers safe
The organic lemons from Pacific Organic Produce are packed in their Purity label. The company offers a variety of sizing, as well as custom packs. “We pack bulk, by size with PLUs, and we also offer 2lb and 1lb bags with different pack sizes such as 18/2, 9/2, and 12/1s. In reality, our communication and relationship with our grower is so well rooted we can custom pack with almost no lead time. This is a huge advantage as it allowed us to better service our customers and keep our inventories fresh,” Romo says.
The season is now underway and the outlook is positive. Fortunately, there haven’t been many issues so far this season, despite the pandemic. “Our grower has made tremendous efforts in social distancing and keeping his employees healthy throughout this whole pandemic. Even before the pandemic, our grower always had a doctor full-time at the packing shed for his employees, so physical and mental health has always been a priority,” Romo concludes.