U.S.: California Citrus Mutual releases freeze damage estimates
California Citrus Mutual has estimated that San Joaquin Valley citrus growers have suffered around US$441 million in revenue losses due to a seven-day freeze that hit the region in early December, 2013.
Aside from the fruit that could not be sold, the industry organization has also calculated that citrus growers have collectively spent US$49 million to protect the 2013-14 crop, including the use of tools such as wind machines to raise grove temperatures in the event's wake.
"What has made this year complicated for assessing damage is that Mother Nature did not treat all areas and producers equally," California Citrus Mutual chairman Kevin Severns said in a release.
"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%."
Severns added the same could be said for orange crops, which have been a "mixed bag".
"We know of one grower who lost 100% of his tonnage, whereas most producers lost 10-20%," he said.
Out of the estimated US$441 million in losses to the industry, US$150 million in losses have been felt by mandarin growers, who had harvested just a fifth of their crop at the time of the freeze and lost around 40% of the remaining trees to frost damages.
The loss for the orange industry has been even greater at US$260 million, representing a damage of 30% of crops.
California Citrus Mutual said lemon farmers in the area fared much better with just a 20% loss, accounting for about US$24 million in foregone revenue.
"The industry is now faced with increased costs associated with quality inspections," Severns said
"Fruit is moving through the packinghouses at a much slower rate as we employ freeze detection technology as well as human inspection protocol.
"The California citrus industry is known for producing high quality fruit, and that is a reputation the industry is going to lengths to protect."