“One of the new things we have this year is a small amount of organic clementines,” said Scott Mabs, director of marketing for Homegrown Organic Farms in Porterville, CA. “This is a new block that is coming into its first year of production.” There will not be a lot of fruit to be harvested this year, “but it is a sizeable block and it will be a great program looking into the future,” he said.
The new clementines are grown in the southern San Joaquin Valley. “We will start them right around Thanksgiving” and continue to run with them “throughout the holidays,” he said.
Homegrown expects continued growth in its overall citrus program. “We will have increases in volume almost across the board, but it is incremental,” Mr. Mabs said. “We will probably have a 20-percent increase across the board just due to bringing new blocks into production.”
The company starts its citrus season “down in the southern San Joaquin Valley with our acreage of Fukumoto Navels,” he said. “It is a great ranch and some really good acreage of a very good early variety of Navels.” He expected the harvest to start around the second week of November. “We could go earlier,” he said, but “we don’t push it. It is a matter of not wanting to gas the fruit for a long period of time.”
Following the early Fukumotos, Homegrown will move into mid-season Navel varieties, including Washingtons and Atwoods, he said. “Then we will have a very good, really strong late-season program” that will continue through May.
The transition from mid-season to late varieties will come around April 1, Mr. Mabs said. “Rather than hanging on to mid-season varietals all the way into April and May, we shut those down. We are done with those by the end of March,” and in April, “we switch entirely to late-season varieties, those being Autumn Gold, Barnfields, Chisletts and Late Lanes.”
The late varieties “give us better shelf life, they eat better; they are a really good piece of fruit,” he said.
Homegrown will start Satsumas sometime between the Nov. 15 and Nov. 20, Mr. Mabs said.
“We will be starting our Caras around December 15. That is “a really good program with good volumes,” and it will continue “all the way through March,” he said. “Our Cara program will increase this year for sure, probably by a good 20 percent.”
The company also will have W. Murcott Mandarins that should start in mid-February, lemons that go from December through March, and grapefruit that starts in March and goes through September. “Our grapefruit program continues to grow,” Mr. Mabs said.
The Murcott program will be up in volume as well this year, because “we have some new acreage coming in.”
All of Homegrown’s products are certified organic, and the company has seen continued growth in demand for organic produce, Mr. Mabs said. “We are feeling very good about where the organic demand is. It has not stagnated, it is continuing to increase.”