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Large size profile for California Navel oranges until the end of the season

The rains seen this year in California have helped increase the sizing of the remaining Navel orange crop. "There is a steady supply of Navels on medium and large sizes–88s and larger. As the regular Navel varieties come to an end, the Late Navels will have larger sizes and fewer small ones," says Chris Diaz of Fillmore-Piru Citrus. "The 113/138s sizes will become more scarce and the demand will continue to increase on the small size Navels."

Coming into May, some suppliers will finish up their Navel crop, and due to the thrip damage this season, there will be fewer fresh cartons packed and the crop is projected to end sooner than normal. (This follows a slightly later start to the season as well due to sugar content being delayed.) Reports indicate that other shippers will not finish until mid/late June which is later than the last two seasons. "Some suppliers will begin Valencias in April which will help with some of the small size demand," adds Diaz.

Fillmore Piru starts its Valencia harvest at the end of April and next week, it should also begin packing Gold Nugget mandarins. "We haven't packed Gold Nugget mandarins in multiple years so we are very excited to get back into this great tasting, easy peeler variety," Diaz says.

He says there are also more and more mandarin trees being planted each season along with more orange acreage being removed. "Over the next five years, I believe we will see mandarin consumption exceed orange consumption," he says. "The production costs have increased each season which is making Navel oranges higher priced on the retail shelf as well. You are getting more for your money buying mandarins versus oranges."

Changing harvest plans
While most of the supply is coming out of the Central California region right now, Kern and Tulare counties have a limited supply of oranges coming from Ventura and Riverside County. "There has been a lot of rain this season which has been great for our trees but has also altered the harvest plans causing a delay in the fruit being picked," adds Diaz.

Industry production is also coming from Mexico which is producing Valencias and Diaz says they are selling for approximately 20 percent less on average than California navels.

Meanwhile, in California, overall pricing is 10 to 15 percent higher than last season. "Due to the supply of larger sizes, the pricing has been lower over last season on average while pricing on smaller size oranges has been much higher over last season–40 percent higher on average for FPCA," says Diaz.

Looking ahead, expectations for the remainder of April are good. "Demand should continue on Navels until the last carton is packed for each supplier," says Diaz. "The weather is getting warmer which should help the harvest and with historically good movement in April/May, a lot of Navels should be arriving on the shelves of these retail stores."

For more information:
Chris Diaz
Fillmore-Piru Citrus
Tel: +1 (805) 521-1781
[email protected]