Mandarins still growing in popularity

(mariematata on Adobe Stock)

Easy peel orange has increased plantings in California by 20,000 acres in less than a decade; navel oranges still dominate plantings with 110,000 acres

CENTRAL VALLEY – Mandarins continue to grow in popularity and plantings, but navel oranges still rule the Golden State.

As of Sept. 1, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) reports that mandarins continue to gain ground in California. The easy peel citrus variety has increased plantings by 20,000 acres in less than a decade, from 47,000 acres in 2014 to over 67,000 acres in 2022.

The 2023-24 forecast for mandarins, specifically the Tango and W. Murcott Afourer varieties, is 21 million, 40-lb. cartons, based on estimated fruit per tree, fruit diameter, trees per acre, bearing acreage, and mandarins per box. Fruit set per tree was 593, up 8% over last year. The average diameter was down 7% from last year. The crop should yield 677, 40-lb. cartons per acre.

While mandarins continue to garner more attention, California’s citrus crop is still dominated by navel oranges. The vitamin-rich staple variety still dominates the fresh eating category of citrus with more than 110,000 acres despite a decline of 30,000 acres in the last 15 years.

The 2023-24 forecast for navels is 74.0 million cartons, up 1% from the previous year. The forecast includes production of conventional, organic, and specialty Navel oranges (including Cara Cara and Blood orange varieties). Fruit set per tree is 335, down 5% from the previous year. The average diameter is 2.177 inches, up 3% from last year. The crop should yield 673 cartons per acre.

At least one segment of the navel crop is on the upswing as Cara Cara acreage has increased from 6,350 acres in 2014 to 9,500 acres in 2022. The cancer-fighting Cara Cara is forecasted at 7 million, 40-lb. cartons for 2023-24. Fruit set per tree is 273, down 11% from the previous year but 2% above the five-year average of 267. The average diameter is 2.188 inches, slightly above the five-year average of 2.169 inches.

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