California Citrus Crops Better than Expected After December Freeze
CALIFORNIA - Fortunately for California’s Central Valley citrus industry, it appears now that that the damage incurred from the severe freeze in December may not have had the devastating impact that was originally anticipated. Based on early reports from growers and agricultural officials in February, a 40% loss was expected for the Mandarin crop, while the more cold tolerant navel variety was anticipated to have a 30% loss.
For more information on the February predictions, check out our previous article by clicking here.
“As the season progressed into the Spring, it became increasingly obvious that we were not going to see the damage we had originally anticipated,” says Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen. “While this is good news overall, there was definitely some damage out there, particularly in Kern County where a significant portion of the California Mandarin crop is produced.”
Back in December, a hard freeze hit the California citrus crops with almost a dozen days of freezing temperatures falling well below the critical 28 degree mark. For a more detailed look at the freeze, check out our previous article by clicking here.
California Citrus Mutual credits the advances in freeze protection technologies such as wind machines and real-time weather monitoring capabilities for minimizing the impact of the freeze to the citrus crop.
The navel harvest was originally thought to be shortened considerably because of the freeze, but while the crop was smaller than forecasted, packing houses were still packing them until about three weeks ago. That is better than last year at the same time. Mandarins were better than expected as well, and with only 40% harvested so far, it is too early to tell on Valencias.
With the season coming to a close, it is evident now that the overall damage will be far less than predicted, however, an exact percentage will not be known until the season completely wraps up later this month.