Rain Brings Long-term Gain But Short-term Harvest Delays For California Citrus


Recent rain in California has been fantastic for the long-term interest of growers, said Casey Creamer, president and CEO of California Citrus Mutual.

The previous three years of drought had citrus growers very concerned, Creamer said, and the recent rain and increasing snowpack in California’s mountains are welcome. At the same time, the rain has created a slower harvest start than is typical, Creamer said.

Growers are closely monitoring weather and field conditions to harvest what the market is demanding, when possible, he said. 

In early January, the industry was 26% harvested for the California navel crop, which Creamer said is a very slow pace compared with historical norms.

After smaller fruit early in the season, recent trends in fruit size are more typical, Creamer said.

With logistics and transportation issues easing, there are opportunities in the export market, Creamer said.

“A month or so ago, we were really concerned about exchange rates, and that seems to have sort of worked itself out a little bit,” he said. 

Some of the top markets for U.S. citrus exports include Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Mexico and China, USDA numbers show.


Citrus greening has been a concern for the California citrus industry, but precautions and safeguards have kept the disease excluded from commercial groves so far, Creamer said. 

“It is something we’re being very vigilant on,” he said.


The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s California Citrus Acreage Report indicated overall statewide bearing acreage is up 1.7% or 4,297 acres in 2022 compared to 2020. This is an increase from 251,231 total acres in 2020 to 255,528 in 2022.

Lemon acreage experienced the biggest increase of all citrus types, increasing by 3,765 acres or 8.8%, according to the report. Acreage in 2020 was 42,929 acres, jumping to 46,694 acres in 2022.

Mandarin acreage jumped from 59,422 in 2020 to 63,282 in 2022, an increase of 3,860 acres or 6%, the report said.

Navels and valencias both decreased in acreage from 2020 to 2022, the report said. Navel area dropped 2% from 112,592 acres in 2020 to 110,509 acres in 2022, a decrease of 2,083 acres. In 2020 total valencia area was 26,924 acres, dropping to 25,528 acres in 2022. That is a decrease of 1,396 acres or 5%, the report said.

From The Packer