Valley citrus farmers predicting a good year

TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Crews at Green Leaf Farms near Dinuba are hard at work, picking Lisbon lemons and filling bins to the brim.

The weather has been favorable for citrus growers recently, after a cold snap around Christmas.

"But we didn't have anything that was damaging. Decent inversions, we have good water and I haven't heard anybody who came away with, other than losing a lot of sleep and burning a lot of fuel, there wasn't much damage to speak of if any," said Green Leaf Farms Nick Hill.

He is months away from knowing his return but has a feeling this will be a good year for California citrus growers.

Demand is high both at home and abroad, and he says depending on the variety, volume is down anywhere from 15 to 25 percent.

"Markets are taking the fruit, they're selling for last time I checked oranges $4 or $5 over a box than it was last year, the lemons are a little bit better than last year, tangerines are just starting to be picked now"

Hill, who also grows walnuts and almonds, sees citrus as a dynamic crop. It is costly and time intensive and there always seems to be a threat to the multi-billion dollar industry.

"Anytime a large sector of the agriculture gets hurt in the valley, it's going to affect a lot of people's lives, and citrus is a big part of the Valley," said Hill.

Meantime, the harvest continues and growers cross their fingers, hoping the hard work will pay off.
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