Measurement survey results suggest fruit set is the strongest in five years

Navel orange production in California is expected to top 75m cartons over the 2022/23 season, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The department’s initial forecast points to a packout of 76m cartons, up 19 per cent from 2021/22.

The vast majority of the crop (73m cartons) is expected to come from California’s Central Valley.

The forecast is based on the results of the 2022/23 Navel Orange Objective Measurement Survey, which was conducted from 17 June to 1 September and involved 785 randomly selected navel groves.

Survey data indicated an average fruit set per tree of 351, up 47 per cent from the previous year. This is the strongest set since the 2018/19 season, when the average was 426 per tree.

Average fruit size (diameter) was the smallest in two decades, according to the survey.

Bearing navel acreage continues to gradually decline in California, with growers opting to remove less productive groves due to escalating production costs and the spread of the citrus tristeza virus.