The outlook for California citrus shipments continues to be good despite recent freezes. Meanwhile, pomegranate shipments have ended with limited exceptions.
California’s Central San Joaquin Valley had temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s a couple of weeks ago, but this is ideal for most citrus varieties for this point in the season. Navel oranges and lemons are generally more cold tolerant than mandarin, or easy-peel, varieties such as Clementines, Murcotts, and Tangos, but with frost protection by wind machines the weekend temperatures proved favorable for all varieties. The cold weather will actually cause the maturation process of the fruit to slow, allowing for the fruit to store longer on the tree and maintain its flavor, external quality and color.
Much of the Central Valley’s mandarin crop is concentrated in Kern County, where temperatures hovered around 31 degrees the night of Dec. 18, which with the aid of wind machines is an ideal temperature point. Similarly, in Tulare and Fresno Counties temperatures were well within preferable ranges.
Navel oranges, by contrast, can withstand cooler temperatures for longer durations. Wind machines were used on roughly one-third of the Central Valley navel crop — covering 44,000 acres — for an average of five hours on Saturday and Sunday nights.
California citrus – grossing about $5800 to New York City.
California pomegranate shipments this season are nearly over and, sooner than most had initially expected. Simonian Fruit of Fowler, CA had just a few hundred boxes left Dec. 19th and were expected to be finished shipping by Christmas.
Heavy rains in late October took a toll on unharvested pomegranates significantly reducing volume. Pom Wonderful of Los Angeles experienced a decrease in volume of about 40 percent due to the weather. The company, which started shipping in mid-October completed its season earlier in December, with the exception of its arils variety, that will continue through January. Another exception is Trinity of Fresno, CA, which is shipping the arils variety through February. Trinity, as well as King Fresh of Dinuba, CA and are both down about 35 percent.