Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, March 20, 2015, Page 9, Image 9

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March 20, 2015
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Drought hastens decline of
Valencia orange production
Smaller crop makes for better flavor, vintners say
Capital Press
Capital Press
trend of declining Valencia
orange production that’s been
ongoing since 2000 is acceler-
ating because of the drought,
according to government and
industry data.
Growers this season are
expected to produce a 20-mil-
lion-carton crop, down from
22 million cartons last year
and a little more than half the
39 million cartons produced in
2001-02, reports the National
Agricultural Statistics Service
A sampling of 539 groves
found an average fruit set of
545, well below the five-year
average of 639 and the lowest
set since the 2008-2009 sea-
son, according to NASS. The
average March 1 diameter was
2.571 inches, slightly above the
five-year average of 2.562, the
agency found.
The dry conditions and a
shutoff of federal water have
hastened growers’ decision to
take out Valencia trees, which
were already being replaced
with navels and other more
lucrative citrus varieties before
the drought began.
“There were probably a few
more pushed out last year than
what might have been ordi-
narily,” said Bob Blakely, vice
president of the Exeter-based
California Citrus Mutual. “I
think the lighter fruit set has
more to do with the drought
and heat as well.”
The NASS objective mea-
surement report comes as the
season’s first Valencias are be-
ing packed for export. It’s a bit
of an early start for Valencia
harvest, which typically occurs
in the spring and summer.
Tim Hearden/Capital Press
Several varieties of Califor-
nia oranges are bagged for
purchase. A trend of declining
valencia orange production
since 2000 is being accelerated
by the drought.
Valencia acreage has seen
a precipitous decline in recent
years; there are about 34,000
bearing acres this year, down
from 65,000 in 2001-02, ac-
cording to NASS.
While warm winter after-
noons have contributed to the
light fruit set, growers have
been mostly spared the night
time freezes that have affected
their orchards in recent years.
San Joaquin Valley citrus grow-
ers lost about $441 million in
revenue last year because of
a freeze in December 2013,
as about 30 percent of navel
oranges and 40 percent of re-
maining mandarins were ren-
dered unsuitable for fresh mar-
kets, Citrus Mutual estimated.
Growers are about halfway
through their harvest of what is
expected to be about a 78 mil-
lion-carton navel crop, Blakely
said. Fruit started out smaller
than normal because of drought
stress on trees throughout the
prime citrus region of Fresno,
Kings and Tulare counties, but
winter rains improved fruit siz-
es, Blakely said.
Utilization rates — the fruit
that’s packed as fresh and not
diverted to juice — have re-
mained above 80 percent, he
NASS Valencia Orange Objective Measurement Report: http://
California Citrus Mutual:
producers in California saw
a 12 percent drop in tonnage
during the most recent grape
crush, but the industry is far
from concerned.
After three straight years
of record-high crushes from
2011-13, there’s still plenty
of wine in inventories to sell,
Gladys Horiuchi, spokes-
woman for the San Francis-
co-based Wine Institute, said.
And vintners say the smaller
yield brought a more intense
flavor that made 2014 a fine
vintage year.
“Because of the drought,
with less water you get low-
er yields per acre and higher
quality grapes with more in-
tensely flavored character,”
Horiuchi said.
The 2014 crush totaled
4.14 million tons, down 12
percent from the record-high
2013 crush of 4.7 million
tons, according to the final
report issued by the USDA’s
National Agricultural Statis-
tics Service office here.
Red wine varieties —
the largest share of grapes
crushed — came in at a little
more than 2.1 million tons, a
12 percent drop from 2013.
The crushing of white wine
Tim Hearden/Capital Press
California wines are arranged on a market shelf in Redding, Calif. Though the 2014 grape crush was
12 percent smaller in tonnage than the record 2013 crop, vintners say there’s plenty of wine to sell and
the quality is good.
grapes totaled 1.75 million
tons, down 4 percent from
the previous year, NASS re-
The lower yields ap-
peared to push up prices,
as the average price per ton
for all varieties in 2014 was
$743, up 4 percent from
2013, the agency observed.
Red wine grapes brought the
most value at $892, up 5 per-
cent from the previous sea-
son, while white wine grapes
valued at just under $596,
down 4 percent, according
to NASS.
While the greater Fresno
area had the largest share of
the state’s crush at more than
1.33 million tons, grapes
produced in Napa County
received the highest average
price of $4,077 per ton, a
10 percent jump from 2013,
NASS reported.
In 2014, Chardonnay ac-
counted for the largest per-
centage of the total crush
volume at 17.3 percent, with
Cabernet Sauvignon second
at 12.3 percent. Cabernet Sau-
vignon was the priciest wine
grape last year at $1,426 per
ton, up 6 percent from 2013,
while the 2014 Chardonnay
price of nearly $861 was
down 1 percent from 2013,
according to NASS.
Drought-stricken California ramps up water restrictions
(AP) — California residents
have to turn off their sprinklers,
and restaurants won’t give cus-
tomers water unless they ask
under new drought regulations
approved Tuesday.
The State Water Resources
Control Board has extended
and expanded restrictions on
water use with California enter-
ing its fourth year of drought as
winter ends without significant
storms or snowfall to replenish
dwindling reservoirs.
The drought’s effects are
rippling across the state. So far
this winter, wildfires are burn-
ing through nearly four times as
many acres as usual. The state
firefighting agency reports that
the dry conditions are forcing
it to maintain its highest-ever
level of seasonal firefighters
straight through the winter.
The state water board,
meanwhile, is pursuing ways
to cut down urban water use.
It voted to extend statewide
outdoor water limits imposed
in July, barring washing down
driveways, decorative foun-
tains without recirculating
pumps and sprinklers that spray
New rules will require local
water departments to restrict the
number of days residents can
water their lawns. If they don’t,
residents must follow a state rule
limiting their sprinkling to twice
a week. Homeowners are also
barred from using sprinklers on
days when it rains and for the
next two days after.
Golf course owners objected
to limiting days they can water
grass, telling the board Tuesday
that the regulation would threat-
en their ability to keep attractive
landscapes, which they say are
already water-efficient.
The regulations also mandate
common business conservation
practices statewide. Restaurants
can’t offer water unless custom-
ers ask, and hotels and motels
must offer guests an opportu-
nity to decline fresh towels and
sheets at hotels.
It’s up to local water depart-
ments to enforce these rules,
which are expected to take effect
later this month. They can fine
offenders $500 per violation, but
few have gone that far.
The water board also decid-
ed Tuesday it will start tracking
how agencies enforce the reg-
ulations, including the number
of citations and warning letters