A California heat wave that started two weeks ago in the coastal region has brought on lemon ripening much more quickly than usual and product is dropping from trees. Long story short, California lemon shipments will be much lighter than normal for the next two months.
Wonderful Citrus of Delano, CA has less than 20 percent of its lemons remaining on trees. Lemoneira of Santa Paula, CA reports the heat wave hit July 7th and has continued.
Overall, imported lemon volume has been down this summer and the situation will not improve anytime soon.
Imported Mexican lemons are expected to be off 15 to 20 percent due to a December cold front affecting trees in the colder regions of Mexico’s lemon growing regions in the north. At the same time Chile is projecting a lemon crop very similar to last season, but their shipments to the U.S. are down by 30 percent compared to the same time last season. Chilean adverse weather condition has slowed harvests and move back shipping dates. Additionally, Argentina lemon imports have been less this season than anticipated.
Domestic lemon shipments from the California-Arizona desert region by the end of August, but only in very light volume. Full volume from that area will not be available until the end of September.
The recently completed California orange shipping season has the last tabulation at 44 million boxes, down 1 percent from the USDA’s June projection. The estimate for valencias has been lowered 5 percent to 9 million boxes, on par with last season. The forecast for navels is steady at 35 million boxes, which is down 11 percent from the 2016-17 season.
The smaller navel crop — with that season normally running from October into June — was expected by the industry because of a couple of weather events.
The USDA forecast for the new season of California orange shipments will come out in September.