USDA-NASS releases April crop forecasts

The USDA-NASS, California Field Office has released the crop production forecast for April. The latest survey, conducted during the last week of March and the first week of April, included the following commodities:

Navel Oranges - The 2007-08 Navel orange forecast is 99 million cartons, a 3 percent increase from January and up 43 percent from last season. The Navel season is progressing well with above average yields and good fruit color, maturity, and sugar content.

Valencia Oranges - The 2007-08 Valencia orange forecast remains unchanged from March at 32 million cartons. The crop is expected to be up 39 percent from last season. An early harvest has begun of the 2008 Valencia crop with limited picking. The crop looks good with a heavier than average fruit set per tree than in most years. Fruit size varies across the state, but overall is smaller than average. Production is above that of last year's freeze-damaged crop, but not expected to reach the levels seen in earlier years of much higher acreage.

Grapefruit - The 2007-08 California grapefruit forecast is 10 million cartons, unchanged from the January forecast, but down 9 percent from last season. Desert Rio Reds and Pummelo varieties were being picked in California.

Lemons - The 2007-08 lemon forecast is 34 million cartons, unchanged from the January forecast, but 8 percent below last season. Lemon harvest in the desert area is complete. Harvest is increasing on the south coast, but inventories remain tight. Picking in the Central Valley is light.

Tangerines - The 2007-08 tangerine forecast is 10.2 million cartons, unchanged from the January forecast, but up 46 percent from last season. W. Murcott mandarins and Minneola tangelos grown in the Central Valley are expected to be picked through the end of the month. Royal and Honey mandarin harvests remain underway. Pixie mandarin harvest has just begun in the southern areas and fruit are of excellent quality.

Strawberries - The 2008 strawberry production is expected to be 22 million cwt., up 2 percent from last year. Harvested acreage is estimated at 36,700, with a yield of 600 cwt. per acre. The 2008 strawberry crop began the year with a sluggish start. Cool, wet weather slowed crop progress even compared with last year’s frost delayed crop. Warmer and drier weather has resulted in increased production. Quality has been reported as excellent.

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