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Unseasonably warm winter temperatures — even by Sunshine State standards — could stretch the season for Florida Classic Growers of Dundee, FL, according to Al Finch, vice president of sales and marketing .

“This past fall through the first of January has been the warmest fall and winter I can imagine,” Mr. Finch said. “The Honey tangerine crop was slowed by the lack of cool weather in Florida, as they are picked for color. This should extend the availability of the Honey tangerine to March 1 and we’ll have promotable volume for three-pound bags. FL-Classic-3Al Finch and Todd Mudger of Florida Classic Growers. (Photo by Chip Carter)Temple oranges began Jan. 7. The mid-season Hamelin orange will transition into the Valencia in roughly the middle of February. The Valencia is showing a strong season, we’ve got a good supply that will be available into the summer months. We look to have another good year on Temples, and Valencias are our largest orange variety — the outlook is great for oranges.”

Florida Classic’s red grapefruit were plentiful and high quality in the first half of the season, though tending to smaller sizes due to a lack of rainfall.

“We’re peaking on 48s and 40s, with 27s and 32s just a little harder to come by,” Mr. Finch said. “That of course lends itself to bagged promotions, and we have plenty of volume to work with retailers on those. The first half of the season there was good ad activity on red grapefruit. The demand there was strong for bags as well as bulk sizes, and we look to continue that momentum through the second half of the season and into the spring.”

Following a successful effort last season, Florida Classic will again have a summer storage program that will provide oranges for retail partners into the summer months.

“That’s proven to be a very successful program, and we appreciate the support we’ve gotten from our retail partners on that,” Mr. Finch said. “This should work especially well with the strong Valencia crop we are currently seeing.”

“This has been an outstanding year and season to date,” Mr. Finch said. “We have had excellent arrivals on our citrus. Demand has definitely picked up, and there has been lots of retail promotion on bagged tangerines and oranges. Two areas where we have seen continual growth have been our gift fruit and fundraising business. We have seen that business continue to grow year over year. It’s a real shining star and we had another successful year with these programs.”

In August, Florida Classic, the marketing arm of Dundee Citrus Growers in Dundee, moved from its former Lake Hamilton, FL, headquarters to the main Dundee complex. That move continues to yield benefits.

Having all operations under one roof “has been beneficial and helped us become even more efficient,” he said. “There are a lot of benefits to being in the same place — it further strengthens communication among all facets of the organization from sales to the packinghouse to administration.”