Valencia orange growers in California are attempting to make the most of this year's crop, which is expected to be the smallest in more than ten years.
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) published its March 2022–23 Valencia orange forecast earlier this month. This year, 16.2 million cartons of orange juice are expected to be the state's main source, which is approximately a million cartons less than previous year. Since 2010, growers have removed around 1,000 acres annually.
Several sections of the season saw isolated precipitation, which led to a soggy start to the growing season. According to survey data, there were an average of 616 fruit sets per tree, up 13.9% from the year before and 12.2% more than the 549 average for the preceding five years. The average March 1 diameter was 2.391 inches, which is 5.1% less than the five-year average of 2.520 and a decrease of 2.8% from the previous year.
Statistics on the production of Valencia oranges over the past seven years reveal a general drop, with more than 22 million cartons produced in 2015–16. This sweet orange's production has decreased by 5,000 acres since 2016 to 25,000 acres in the state, which accounts for the fall. In 2012, there were 40,000 acres that bore fruit. Tulare County contains one-third of the state's Valencia acreage.
While Florida's supply of juice oranges has been declining, the availability of this fresh source of vitamin C has decreased. This has given Californian producers an opportunity to turn around and possibly make some new plantings of this flavorful orange variety.