As Fillmore Piru Citrus heads towards the end of its Valencia orange deal, the California-based company is gearing up for the first lemon shipments of the 2016-17 campaign.
Speaking with www.freshfruitportal.com during Asia Fruit Logistica last week, vice president of sales David Fausset said production would start in the California desert in October, with the first export arrivals hitting Asian shores in November.
As with all its lines - including mandarins, Navels and oranges - Fillmore Piru exports to Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Philippines.
"We’ll ship on containers and there'll be pretty good volume coming up this year on lemons so we’re excited about that, arriving November through May of next year," he said.
Fausset said the desert production would be followed by fruit from the San Joaquin Valley and then Ventura County on the coast, and while volumes would be decent they would likely be down on 2015-16.
"We were hopeful with El Niño that we were going to get more rain but really there were just pockets of it. I think that’s going to affect the production of overall lemons for the coming season," he said, adding a heatwave during the flowering period in May could also be determining factor in cutting volume.
"What we’re hoping is we don’t have the La Niña affect where there’s less rain – we’re hoping it’s an anomaly and we get more rain because the trees definitely do need it."
He said Valencia orange trading has gone pretty well in Asia this year so far.
"They take a lot of key sizes like 56s, 72s and 88s, and we’ve shipped probably 10 loads over the past month that are on the water to help meet that demand," he said.
"We’ll probably slow that down because our season is progressing – it’s mid-season right now, but when you get towards the latter end of the season you don’t want to export because you need that strength in the fruit.
"So the season has been really strong up until this point but we’ve had some heat in the last couple of weeks so we’ll slow that down as far as oranges."
While the Chinese mainland market reopened for California citrus in August, 2014, technicalities have prevented Fillmore Piru from capitalizing on the opportunity.
"There’s a protocol now and the protocol is that you have to skirt your trees and spray so we currently aren’t servicing that market," he said.
During Asia Fruit Logistica, he said the Fillmore Piru team met with a large company that imports lemons into mainland China.
"So we’re going to go back to our grower base and talk to them about the possibilities," he said.
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