SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Food and Agriculture's (CDFA) Agricultural Statistics Service has released the crop production forecast for April 2005.

The latest survey, which was conducted during the last week of March and the first week of April, includes the following commodities:

Navel oranges - The 2004-05 Navel orange forecast is 86 million cartons, down 2 percent from the January 2005 forecast, but 13 percent above last season. Rainfall has slowed harvest all season, keeping workers out of the orchards. Despite the heavy rains, fruit quality and flavor have been excellent, creating high demand for this year's crop.

Valencia oranges - The 2004-05 Valencia orange forecast is 36 million cartons, down 10 percent from the January 2005 forecast of 40 million cartons, but up 29 percent above last season. Harvesting of the Valencia crop was well under way, with no major problems reported as yet. However, acreage pullouts continued in both the Central Valley and southern areas. Overall quality of the harvested crop was good in both districts. Much of the Central Valley crop was being packed for export at this point.

Grapefruit - The 2004?05 California grapefruit forecast is estimated at 10.8 million cartons, up 2 percent from the January forecast, but unchanged from last season. Pummelo and Oroblanco grapefruit varieties were harvested in the Central Valley. In both varieties, quality remained good with normal shape, smooth texture, and excellent flavor. Harvesting of Rio Red variety grapefruit was active in the Coachella Valley. Quality was reported to be good, with smooth texture, and mostly normal shape.

Lemons - The 2004-05 lemon forecast is 39 million cartons, unchanged from January, but 8 percent above last season. Demand and movement were typical for this time of year. Harvesting was essentially complete in the Desert region and was winding down in the Central Valley. Exterior quality was very good, shape was normal, and condition remained strong. Harvest was progressing well in the South Coastal region. Fruit size was generally running medium-to-large and shape was normal.

Tangerines - The 2004-05 tangerine forecast is 6 million cartons, up 3 percent from the January 2005 forecast, and 11 percent above last season. This year's tangerine season was progressing with no major problems to date. Harvest in the Desert Valley region was nearing a close, but continued in the Central Valley with Minneola the more dominant variety harvested.

Overall quality was very good, with excellent color and normal shape. Flavor and eating quality were reported to be good.

Strawberries - The 2005 strawberry production is expected to be 19.9 million hundredweight, up 2 percent from last year. Harvested acreage is estimated at 34,300, with a yield of 580 hundredweight per acre. Acreage was reported to be moving north from the southern districts to Oxnard and Santa Maria. The season started slowly due to heavy rains that caused damage and delays in Southern California. Production has increased in recent weeks, though, as the earlier weather problems seemed to have strengthened strawberry plants.

California's Agricultural Statistics Service operates under a cooperative agreement between CDFA and the United States Department of Agriculture. Production forecasts are released monthly and do not reflect final production estimates. The next production forecast will be issued on May 12, 2005.