Vanguard is pleased to provide an update on the California Navel Orange. Weather has been favorable this year. Growers are hoping for moderate Fall temperatures and some rain to set this crop up for a great season ahead.
The 2019-20 season’s forecast is 76 million cartons which is down by 7% from last year. Fruit set per tree has been estimated at 319, below the five-year average of 366. Of the total Navel Orange forecast, 73 million cartons are estimated to come from the Central Valley. In particular, the Cara Cara variety of Navel Orange production from the Central Valley is forecasted at 6 million cartons and estimated to produce a fruit set per tree of 268 with a diameter of 2.185 inches.
All forecasts are based on the results of the 2019-20 Navel Orange Objective Measurement (O.M.) Survey, which was conducted from June 15 to September 1, 2019. This survey uses fruit set per tree, fruit diameter, trees per acre, bearing acreage, and oranges per box in the statistical models estimating production. The varieties forecasted include conventional, organic, and specialty Navel Oranges (including Cara Cara and Blood Orange varieties).
After consulting with some of our growers, the realistic reduction of this year’s crop is likely closer to 15% as a more accurate representation due to fruit that did not get packaged last year or sent directly to juice, rather than being sold on the fresh market.
Although a reduction of Navel Oranges is expected, last year’s very large crop of smaller sized fruit and advanced maturity was a challenge for both the growers and customers. Therefore, growers and distributors alike are much more optimistic about this season’s crop. The diameter sizing from the forecast is 2.169 inches, below the five-year average of 2.225 inches, but all growers that we have heard from feel that sizing is definitely larger than last year, and the fruit is still actively growing at this point in the season so larger fruit is expected.
Overall the quality of this fruit is looking good. There was a little more insect damage this year, so growers are expecting to see more choice grade navel oranges available. Harvest is expected to be delayed by 7-10 days, and we hope to have some Navels ready to export by mid to late November.