The following is the latest California Fruit and Nut Review from the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Sacramento, Calif., Field Office:

March crop comments

California’s Central Valley experienced near normal precipitation during the last several months. Stone fruit throughout the Central Valley, including plums, prunes, peaches, cherries, and other early varieties, showed widespread bloom. Fungicide sprays were applied to blooming stone fruit trees.

Pruning of orchards and vineyards was approaching completion. Strawberry and blueberry plantings began blooming and out-of-state raspberry bushes arrived for planting.

Strawberry fields in California’s San Joaquin Valley (SJV) set fruit while warmer temperatures along the Central Coast aided budding in wine grape vineyards. Herbicide sprays were applied in Central Valley grape vineyards while warmer temperatures aided the budding of wine grape vineyards along the Central Coast.

Widespread bloom continued in almond orchards. Considerable petal fall also occurred. Due to wet weather earlier in the season, some brown rot was observed in almond orchards.

Most growers applied protective sprays to limit the impact of spring diseases. Walnut blight applications began in preparation for the upcoming walnut bloom. Pest traps were placed in almond orchards and irrigation began in drier areas.

Citrus trees were topped. The picking of tangerines, Navel oranges, grapefruit, and lemons continued while the harvesting of Valencia oranges began in the SJV.

California citrus

• Oranges: The California all orange forecast is 59 million boxes (2.21 million tons), up 4 percent from the previous forecast and up 27 percent from last season’s revised final utilization.

The Navel orange forecast is 42 million boxes (1.58 million tons), up 5 percent from the March 1 forecast and up 22 percent from last season.

The Valencia orange forecast is 17 million boxes (638,000 tons), unchanged from the previous forecast, but up 42 percent from last season’s revised final utilization. The Valencia orange harvest began in March.

• Grapefruit: California grapefruit production is forecast at 4.2 million boxes (141,000 tons), unchanged from the previous forecast, but 13 percent below last season’s revised production.

• Lemon: California lemon production is forecast at 20 million boxes (760,000 tons), unchanged from Jan. 1, but down 5 percent from last season’s revised production. The California lemon harvest was completed in the Desert Region, but continued in the Central Valley and began in the Coastal Region.

• Tangerine: California’s tangerine and mandarin crop is forecast at 9.1 million boxes (341,000 tons), up 11 percent from the Jan. 1 forecast, and up 36 percent from last season’s final utilization. If realized, this would be a record crop for California.

Strawberries

2010 California strawberry production is expected at 23.1 million cwt., down 7 percent from last year. The area for harvest is forecast at 37,500 acres, down 6 percent from 2009. Heavy rainfall in February delayed field work, but warm temperatures later in the season allowed strawberry fields to get back on track.