The following is the latest California Fruit and Nut Review report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Sacramento, Calif., Field Office:
December crop comments
Grape and pomegranate harvests were complete. Grape growers were pruning, irrigating, cultivating, and removing old vines.
The extent of frost damage due to cold mid-December temperatures was still being determined, but damage appeared to be localized to small areas.
Almond hulling and stockpiling was completed in early-December. Nut trees began entering dormancy by the end of the month. California’s strawberry season started slowly this year due to the wet and cool weather.
The harvest of Navel oranges, Satsuma and Clementine mandarins, grapefruit, and lemons continued.
In citrus orchards along the coast and in the Central Valley, helicopters and wind machines were deployed to increase air circulation to combat freezing temperatures in mid-December. Growers also used orchard heaters and ran irrigation water to limit the drop in temperature. The extent of damage was still being assessed.
Normal spraying and maintenance continued in citrus orchards.
Temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s and lows in the 30’s and 40’s were reported during December. Increased rainfall helped relieve drought conditions. Overall, the weather was beneficial to citrus progress. Harvesting of Murcott tangerines has begun. Weekly Navel orange harvesting picked up in early December, but dropped off at the end of the month.
Most of the processing plants have opened and are mainly receiving early and mid-season oranges and grapefruit. Grove activity included limited herbicide applications and mowing. Grove caretakers surveyed groves for citrus greening, removed affected trees, and sprayed trees for Asian citrus psyllid control.
• California citrus fruit – Jan. 1 forecast
The all orange forecast in California at 110 million cartons (2.06 million tons) is unchanged from October’s forecast, but 13 percent above last season.
Navel oranges are forecast at 80 million cartons (1.5 million tons), unchanged from the Oct. 1 forecast, but up 16 percent from the 2008-09 final utilization. Navel harvest progressed with good fruit size and quality reported.
California’s Valencia orange forecast is 30 million cartons (563,000 tons), unchanged from the previous forecast, but 7 percent above last season.
Grapefruit production in California is forecast at 8.4 million cartons (141,000 tons), down 11 percent from October, and 25 percent below last season. Rio Red harvest began in the Desert Region of California in early November.
California lemon production is forecast at 40 million cartons (760,000 tons), unchanged from October, but down 9 percent from last season. The California lemon harvest continued in the Desert Region and began in the Central Valley.
California’s tangerine and mandarin forecast is 16.4 million cartons (308,000 tons), up 17 percent from the Oct. 1 forecast, and 22 percent higher than last season. If realized, this will be a record high production in California. Harvesting of Clementine, Satsuma, and Fairchild varieties was underway.