Mandarin oranges and their growing popularity

January 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The US Department of Agriculture projects an 8 percent increase in mandarin orange and tangerine production this year. Two-thirds of the crop comes from California.

An orange store in Northwest Fresno freshly picks mandarin oranges and tangerines because they are constantly re-stocked due to their high demand.

Idali Martinez said children have spurred the popularity of these sweet fruits.

"Parents go for what the kids want and if the kids want mandarins, that's what the parents are going to get for their kids and themselves," Martinez said."Compared to apples and oranges the smaller mandarins are more kid friendly. They're pretty much ready to eat."

Martinez said they're easy to peel, seedless and very good for kids.

The US Department of Agriculture forecasts a record high harvest this year, 427,000 tons from California alone. In 2010, mandarins were grouped into a miscellaneous category with pomelos, tangelos and grapefruit. Growers had simply stepped up production.

Fred Rinder said in one year it came from miscellaneous to number 12.

"I fully expect as we gather information for the 2012 crop report, I wouldn't be surprised to see it jump into the top ten," Rinder said."Over the years we have seen many growers pulling out other crops to plant mandarin trees. They'll also pull out vineyards, stone fruit so we've seen these conversions going on."