The initial 2009-2010 California Navel orange forecast is 80 million cartons, 16 percent higher than the last season.

Of the total forecast, 78 million cartons are estimated to be in the Central Valley.

The forecast is based on the 2009-2010 Navel Orange Objective Measurement Survey conducted from July 20 to Aug. 26, 2009, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Sacramento, Calif., field office.

The survey results indicate a below-average fruit set per tree of 294, but significantly improved over last year’s record low of 202. The average Sept. 1 diameter measured a normal 2.336 inches. The quality is expected to be good.

Adverse weather earlier in the year has not appeared to impact the upcoming crop. Mild spring and summer weather aided the crop’s development.

In the survey a sample of 575 Navel orange groves was randomly selected proportional to county and variety bearing acreage, and 533 of the groves were utilized in the survey. Once a grove is randomly chosen and grower permission is granted, two trees are randomly selected.

Of the 533 utilized groves, 11 were in Madera County, 74 in Fresno County, 306 in Tulare County, 1 in Kings County, and 141 in Kern County.

The survey has been conducted in the Central Valley annually since the 1984-1985 crop year, except for the 1991-1992 season due to a lack of funding.