Navel Orange Perspective: 2019-2020 Season in Review
The 2019-2020 navel season was a “tale of two seasons.” The beginning of the season had all the indications of a good season. But 2019-2020 was not an average year. At different times, the industry struggled with a trade war, rind quality issues, fruit drop, keeping the market supplied between rainstorms, and maintaining grower per acre returns at profitable levels. Seemingly, it took a worldwide coronavirus pandemic to turn the market around.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture, in cooperation with the National Agricultural Statistics Service, released the 2019-2020 California Navel Orange Objective Measurement Report (“CASS Report”) on September 12, 2019. The CASS Report forecast the California navel crop (this includes organic, Cara Cara, blood, and exotic varieties) at 76 million cartons, down 7 percent from the previous year. The Central Valley (District 1) navel crop was forecast at 73 million cartons, down 5.6 million cartons, or 7 percent, from the 2018-2019 final utilized production figure. The Cara Cara variety of Navel orange production in the Central Valley was forecast at 6.0 million cartons. The survey data indicated that the average fruit set per tree was 319, which was below the five-year average of 366. Also, the survey data reported that the average September 1st diameter was 2.169 inches, below the five-year average of 2.225 inches.
The Citrus Mutual Marketing Committee met on September 18, 2019, and agreed that the 73 million carton estimate was a good first estimate. Some committee members indicated that they were expecting the figure to be lower, considering the lighter crop compared to the previous season. Other committee members stated that the crop looked heavier in certain areas than was indicated in the estimate. Optimism was expressed around the table about the better sizing of this year’s crop, even with smaller crops.
Maturity and quality levels at the end of September were good, sugar levels were coming up, and with the color break coming on, it was anticipated the first navels would be harvested in early October.
View the full perspective 2019-20 Navel Perspective here.