Locally-grown mandarins are getting to our grocery stores weeks early this year, thanks to the warm weather.
“We started about two or three weeks early. We are looking for a real good year this year,” Frank Aguilar with Mandarin Hill Orchards said.
All the sun we have been getting has turned most of the mandarins in Placer County from green to orange weeks early, giving farmers more time to harvest their fruit at perfect ripeness.
“Tree ripe (mandarins) just taste sweeter. These are ready to go right here, they are yellow and orange all the way around,” Aguilar said.
On the 20-acre Mandarin Hill Orchard in Penryn, they can harvest each tree about five times a year, ideally producing about 100 tons of citrus, and the three week head start could be just what Aguilar and his family needs to produce the tonnage.
“As far as the weather goes, for our longevity, it could be beneficial because the serious storms start coming in after Christmas and we will have most of our crop off by then, so we may have less spoilage,” said Aguilar.
Mother Nature did mandarin farmers a favor this season. Last year, crops were nearly destroyed by a freeze. This year, they battled the drought, which did affect the mandarin size.
Mandarin Hill Orchard is open every day from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. during growing season. They are located at 2334 Mandarin Hill Lane in Penryn.
There is also an event called Orchard Days held on Dec. 6 and 7, and Dec. 20 and 21 where you can come out tour the orchard, learn about the mandarins, play with animals and buy orange products.