Tough Market for California Lemons

Tough Market for California Lemons

April 23, 2020


Lemons are Ready, but Markets are Not

By Tim Hammerich, with AgInfo.Net

Recent weeks have been tough for the restaurant and food service industries, and for the farmers that supply them. This could not come at a worse time for the California lemon industry, who harvests this time of year and relies on these markets.

Chris Sayer is a lemon producer in Ventura County. “It's raining. Hopefully this delay of a week will allow them to start to clear the packing house out and then maybe we can get moving on selling some fruit. About half the lemons go to restaurants. And witch that shut down and this being the peak of lemon harvest season, basically all the storage is at capacity and they can't pick more unless they sell or dump something to get things moving again.”

Without restaurant demand and very little processing or long term storage capability, packers and producers like Chris are left with very few options.

“Usually Ventura County gets picked over the course of about six or eight weeks. I mean, we're already a little bit behind.," said Sayer. "I would say that I've probably got two more weeks before we start losing fruit, either just from dropping or just sort of gets overripe. And of course, even once we get it harvested and into storage, you know, prices are awful at the moment.”

Sayer knows it won’t be a good year for lemons, but hopes that he can at least get something for harvesting a crop.