California’s coastal lemon fruit operation is well on schedule. “We are currently at 52 percent harvested at our farms and by early June we should be at 85-90 percent harvested,” says Alex Teague of Limoneira. The company’s San Joaquin valley harvest has been completed as of last week. “Due to above normal high winds this past winter, yields of our fancy grade are approximately 20 percent less compared to a normal year,” Teague added.
After the coastal California harvest has slowed down, Limoneira’s southern hemisphere ranches in Chile and Argentina will take over to supply the North American market. First arrivals are planned in mid-June with the season running until September. “We had some really good weather in Chile and expect a strong quality coming in,” said Teague. “Our Argentina ranches on the other hand, have experienced some drought, so we expect a smaller availability from there. From October onwards, the company’s California and Arizona desert ranches will take over the supply. Overall, we think we are off to a much better season than last year’s, which is very helpful,” he added.
Pink lemon varieties
The more common Meyer lemon varieties are continuing to do well both in terms of supply and demand. Newer varieties around the block are the pink and pink variegated lemons. Although they have been around some time, they are not widely available yet as they are really hard to grow. “We have knowledge on how to grow them and have a marketable volume that the marketplace is buying at a rapid pace,” Teague shared. “We see demand rising for this small niche product both in the US as well as internationally. The increase is particularly driven by the foodservice segment.”
Looking into Limoneira’s different markets, the situation has been crazy. “Our export markets go up and down like a rollercoaster. This has all to do with ongoing problems in distribution,” Teague said. “We have a nice challenge like everybody else getting our containers and shipments packed to go off the ports of San Pedro and Los Angeles.”
The company’s US markets are doing well on the road to recovery after COVID. “Our retail is strong as ever. Not the real highs we saw during COVID but still above historical.” Foodservice is also back up to 65-70 percent of normal business compared to last year’s low sales of 25 to 30 percent. ”Demand from bars and restaurants is still a bit erratic but we are hopeful that too will be recovered by early 2022,” Teague concluded.