Damage assessment of California citrus fruit continue with growers and packers salvaging fruit that survived the January freeze, according to USDA/NASS.
The drying out of Navel oranges progressed at a fast pace due to the warm spring weather. Buds were appearing in citrus groves as growers began hedging and topping trees. Harvest of oranges, tangerines, tangelos, mandarins, and grapefruit continued throughout the month. Frost damaged limbs continued to be pruned.
The 2006-07 Navel orange forecast is unchanged from the 54 million cartons forecast last month. This is down 43 percent from last season. Packers continued to find good quality, using mechanical frost separators to separate damaged fruit from good fruit.
The 2006-07 Valencia orange forecast remains unchanged from March at 20 million cartons. The crop is expected to be down 26 percent from last season. The full extent of frost-damage to the Valencia orange crop was yet to be realized. A few packing houses were scheduled to begin working the first week of April.
The 2006-07 California grapefruit forecast is 9.60 million cartons, unchanged from the March forecast, but down 20 percent from last season. Subsequent to the January freeze, a number of measures were taken to assist recovery to trees affected by the cold. Damaged limbs were pruned and foliar nutrients applied in many orchards. New trees were planted.
As a result of the freeze, grapefruit and pummelo harvests remained slow. Sales of Desert Rios were, nonetheless, steady in a range of sizes and supplies of smaller sizes were especially good. Pummelos had been picked for the season and sales were good. Oroblanco sales were limited and inventories were low.