The initial 2009-2010 California Valencia orange forecast is 34 million cartons, 21 percent above last season’s estimated total of 28 million cartons.

The forecast is based on the results of the 2009-2010 Valencia Orange Objective Measurement (O.M.) Survey conducted from Jan. 15 to Feb. 24, 2010, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Survey data indicated a large fruit set per tree of 704, nearly 25 percent above the five-year average of 564. The average March 1 diameter was 2.63 inches, very similar to the five-year average of 2.62.

Measurements and weather conditions are indicating a return to a normal crop after last year’s light season. In 2009, mild spring and summer weather aided healthy fruit development while fall storms and winter temperatures did not significantly impact the crop.

The survey results are based on a sample of 600 Valencia orange groves randomly selected proportional to acreage, county, and variety representation for California.

Estimated fruit set per tree, fruit diameter, trees per acre, bearing acreage, and oranges per box were used in the statistical models estimating production.