After a crippling December freeze, the price of oranges is likely to keep rising and the supply may run out, industry watchers say.
"Come February, I don't think you'll see any more navel oranges," said Leo Rolandelli, a fruit broker at Jacob, Malcolm and Burtt in San Francisco.Thirteen straight subfreezing days in the San Joaquin Valley devastated California's navel orange crop, sending prices spiraling upward.
"I was paying $9 a box for navel oranges before the freeze," said Steve DelMasso of Bay Cities Produce in Oakland. "Now they're costing me about $20 a box, and I'm selling them for $22 to $23 a box."
California produced 2.2 million tons of oranges last year with a market value of $438 million. Up to half of the 1990-91 crop was ruined by frost, according to official estimates.