Citrus Growers Spent $49M, Lost $441M
In early December, the San Joaquin Valley citrus
industry was hit with seven consecutive nights of subfreezing temperatures.
The "event" may have concluded in mid-December but the
industry's battle against Mother Nature continued through early January,
Valley citrus growers report that continuous cold
mornings have required extensive use of frost protection devices. Mandarin
producers report using wind machine for at least 5 hours per night in order to
raise grove temperatures following the freeze event, and lasting through the
first week of January. The more cold tolerant Navel variety incurred less
damage, although producers do report running wind machines an average of 20
hours in the days following the main freeze event.
California Citrus Mutual estimates that the Valley citrus growers have
collectively spent $49 million to protect the 2013/2014 crop.
|CCM Chairman and General |
Manager Kevin Severns
Production in other major citrus producing counties
such as Ventura, Riverside, Imperial, and Monterey has not been affected by
cold temperatures season-to-date.
In the San Joaquin Valley, however, freeze damage has
become evident. Kern County, specifically, has seen a greater
degree of damage than other areas in the Valley. This is attributed to
the early timing of the freeze event and the level of volume still on the tree
at the time.
"What has made this year complicated for
assessing damage is that Mother Nature did not treat all areas and producers
equally," says Citrus Mutual Chairman and General Manager of Orange Cove -
Sanger Citrus Kevin Severns.
"There are areas in Kern and Madera Counties where the Mandarins are
completely wiped out, and others where damage is as great as 40-50%."
The same can be said for the Valley's Navel orange
crop. "It's a mixed bag," continues Severns. "We know of
one grower who lost 100% of his tonnage, whereas most producers lost
As was originally
anticipated, a comprehensive industry survey reflects significant damage to the
Valley's Mandarin crop. At the time of the freeze, approximately 20% of the
crop had been harvested. It is estimated that Valley-wide 40% of
the remaining tree crop was lost due to freeze damage. This equates to a
loss of 4.7 million 40-pound cartons and $150 million in lost revenue.
The more freeze tolerant
Navel crop is estimated to have incurred a 30% loss due to freeze damage
Valley-wide, which equates to 22 million 40-pound cartons and $260 million in
Valley lemon produces fared
better than one would expect with a 20% loss due to freeze damage, or 1 million
40-pound cartons, a $24 million loss.
California Citrus Mutual
currently estimates that the Valley citrus producers incurred approximately
$441 million in lost revenue due to freeze damage.
"A slight increase in price might recover some
loss, however the industry is wary of fruit becoming too expensive," says
Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen.
"History tells us that higher prices result in demand for offshore citrus
or alternative commodities."
|California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen|
Consumers can, however, expect a shorter season for
California citrus. Currently, the industry expects to continue shipping
fruit to the market place through mid-May, versus a traditional availability
that extends into July.
"The industry is now faced with increased
costs associated with quality inspections," concludes Severns. "Fruit
is moving through the packinghouses at a much slower rate as we employ freeze
detection technology as well as human inspection protocol.
Citrus Mutual is a non-profit trade association of citrus growers, with
approximately 2,200 members representing 70% California's 285,000-acre, $2
billion citrus industry. The mission of California Citrus Mutual is to inform,
educate, and advocate on behalf of citrus growers. The Exeter, California-based
organization was founded in 1977.
Labels: California Ag News, Citrus Growers Spent $49 million, Lost $441 million, shorter season increased costs for California citrus, VALLEY CITRUS INDUSTRY EVALUATES FREEZE DAMAGE