California’s 2016-2017 Navel orange estimate is projected at 84 million cartons, down from the previous season's actual utilization of 88 million cartons.
According to survey data released earlier this week, Kern County growers have a higher average fruit set per tree at 472. Tulare’s fruit set averages 380 while the average Fresno set is 296.
This was based on a sample of 537 groves, the highest number of groves sampled since the 2012-2013 season.
The survey sampled conventional, organic and specialty Navels, including Cara Cara and Blood orange varieties.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture report predicts bearing acreage to hold at 120,000 in the state. The latest figures out of Kern, Tulare, and Fresno counties, where most of the state’s oranges are grown, shows Navel acreage in those three counties alone totaled more than 127,000 acres in 2015.
Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, suspects like last year that this year’s figures may not closely coincide with projections as the survey couldn’t predict early fall rains and weather conditions ahead of harvest that caused fruit size to increase.
Current average fruit set in the San Joaquin Valley counties of Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern suggests 384 oranges per tree with an average diameter of 2.213 inches.
The full report can be found online.