Tulare County remains state citrus king

Tulare County leads the state in oranges, ranks second in lemons and accounts for about 40% of the state’s citrus crop

TULARE COUNTY – The city of Exeter can retain its title as Citrus Capital of California after a recent USDA report confirmed Tulare County was still the largest citrus growing county in the state.

The 2022 California Citrus Acreage Report, published by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) on Aug. 3, shows Tulare County is home to about half (59,127) of the state’s 64,679 acres of navel oranges and more than one-third (17,391) of the state’s mandarin oranges. Additionally, Tulare County led the state in valencia oranges (11,304 acres), and pummelos (739 acres).

Tulare County was second in lemons with 10,000 acres, just behind Ventura County’s coastal climate, home to more than 15,000 acres. Tulare County was also second in grapefruit, with 1,176 acres trailing Riverside County’s 3,580. The only citrus category Tulare County didn’t crack the rankings for was limes, which were exclusively in Southern California and only totaled 465 acres statewide.

Overall, Tulare County has around 114,700 citrus acres out of 268,000 statewide, or a bit over 40% of California’s citrus crop. The NASS numbers are based on a voluntary survey of about 5,400 citrus growers and “is unlikely to ever attain 100 percent completeness,” such as growers who planted for the first time in the last year. In fact, Tulare County had more acreage of permanent plantings in its 2020 Crop Report, which listed citrus at more than 135,000 acres. Those numbers included more than 33,000 acres of tangerines and tangelos not included in the USDA report. 

Citrus is Tulare County’s second largest crop totaling more than $1.7 billion in 2020. It was second only to the county’s top crop, milk, which topped $1.8 billion. Citrus is also the county’s largest commodity leaving the county, accounting for 37% of exports in one of the top ag exporting counties in the nation. 

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