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Placer County Supervisor's column

Mandarins are important to Placer County’s agricultural industry

By: Placer County Supervisor Robert M. Weygandt
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Placer County’s mountain mandarin season is in full swing and I’d like to take a moment to highlight why this citrus fruit is so unique and how you can help our growers protect this precious crop from an invasive threat.

Called “mountain mandarins” because the majority of our mandarin orchards are located in our Sierra foothills, it’s the location and climate of our orchards that make Placer-grown Satsuma mandarins so special and why eating just one mandarin is a near impossibility.

The temperature swing between the warm days and cool foothill nights causes the fruit’s sugar and acidity levels to ramp up, giving Placer County mandarins their distinctive sweet and tart flavor.
Placer mandarins are incredibly healthy, too. In 2008, a U.S. Department of Agriculture study documented the cold-fighting benefits of Placer County’s Satsuma mandarins. The study found that local mandarins have a cold-fighting substance known as synephrine in concentrations as much as six times higher than those found in orange juice.

Mandarins are also an important crop for our agricultural industry. According to the 2016 Agricultural Crop Production Report for Placer County, oranges and mandarins brought in $1.5 million to our local economy, with nearly 50 mandarin farms in the county covering a cumulative 202 acres.

Our mandarins have gained quite the following. In November, the popular Mountain Mandarin Festival drew in large crowds with a celebration that included more than a dozen Placer County mandarin growers, mandarin-related food and drinks, live music, handmade items, vendors and fun for the whole family.
In December, the Mountain Mandarin Growers’ Association celebrated Mountain Mandarin Orchard Days, where the public is invited to visit participating orchards to meet their local farmers, pick their own mandarins right from the tree (or grab a bag) and enjoy family-orientated activities.
Mountain mandarins are central to our heritage, which is why it’s so important that we recognize and take steps to address a major threat to this crop. Mandarins, along with other citrus crops, are vulnerable to a growing concern in California: an invasive insect called the Asian citrus psyllid.  It can carry a disease called Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease, which is fatal to citrus trees.
To be clear, this insect has not been found among our prized mandarin orchards and we are continuing to enjoy a healthy harvest this year. Yet as of July, 200 square miles in south Placer are under a citrus quarantine after the discovery of psyllids in western Lincoln in September 2016 and two more occurrences in Roseville. Luckily, the psyllids did not test positive for the disease. But as a precautionary measure, a quarantine has been put into effect for Lincoln, a significant portion of Roseville and portions for Rocklin and Granite Bay.
The quarantine means that residents and businesses within the quarantine boundary cannot move citrus plants or fruits to locations outside the quarantine area.
It bears repeating: the quarantine does not affect our commercial citrus growers, including our mandarin orchards. We need everyone’s help to keep it that way.

Visit CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org to learn more about what you can do to help prevent the spread of the insects and disease. And make sure to buy a bag (or three) of our famous mountain mandarins before this year’s season ends!
 

Robert Weygandt is the Placer County supervisor for District 2, which covers Lincoln, Sheridan, and the western portions of Rocklin and Roseville. To contact Weygandt, call (530) 889-4010 or email tivaldi@placer.ca.gov.