Here’s last year’s citrus tasting at Churchill Orchards:
We contacted Jim Churchill of Churchill Orchards in Ojai, CA to find out how this year’s citrus crop is shaping up. Here’s what he had to say:
The Seedless Kishus have been extraordinarily slow to develop sugar this season, and we’ve been holding off on harvesting til they get sweeter. We’re hoping to start picking for wholesale the week of January 10 and for mail-order the week of January 17.
At this stage of the game it’s hard to predict when the Page Tangors will be ready, but sometime in February seems safe. And Ojai Pixies — for us, mid-March is usually the earliest. The season for Ojai Pixies in general starts before we’re ready at Churchill Orchard — growers in the west end of the Valley, in the Ventura River drainage, get warm down-valley mountain breezes and their fruit gets ripe at least two weeks before ours. So Ojai Pixies will be available around the beginning of March, just not ours and not organically grown Ojai Pixies.
The biggest news is the arrival of the Asian Citrus Psyllid, an insect which vectors a disease called Huang Long Bing (HLB), or Citrus Greening Disease. HLB is fatal to trees, there is no cure, and possibly worst of all if a tree has the disease, it doesn’t show for two-three years during which time the psyllid can be spreading it to other trees. So HLB is what you call an existential threat; it’s all over Mexico (as well as Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and many other states) and will surely arrive within a few years, if it isn’t already here undetected. There have been two recent finds of Asian Citrus Psyllids in Ventura County, which has triggered the imposition of a quarantine. The practical effect of the quarantine for now is that we cannot ship any leaf-and-stem fruit out of the quarantine area, as the psyllids live on the leaves. The more dire possibility, however, is that, if a psyllid were to be found on or near our place, it might trigger mandatory pesticide applications which in turn would threaten our ability to farm organically, and hence our ability to farm at all.
Life of a farmer. O well.
Thank you for your interest in our comings and goings. Happy New Year.