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There has been a flurry of meetings and news reports in recent weeks about the water deficit, but nothing concrete has materialized to date. The end of the 5-year cycle passed yesterday, with various demands that Congress and the Executive Office issue official statements declaring Mexico to be "non-compliant", "in default" or some other similar term-all, of course, meaning the same thing; that Mexico has not met its treaty obligations. Naturally, the soft-soap response, delivered by U.S. State Department spokesman, has basically infuriated local interests, Congressmen and most other officials who have been working on the behalf of South Texas water users.
IBWC has not calculated the exact quantity of water in arrears, although they have the data as of Saturday, September 28. Now, it's just a matter of crunching the numbers, which usually takes about 2 weeks. Any changes between last Saturday and today should be nominal, at best.
The USDA official crop estimate announcement is scheduled for next week. Because private estimates are showing a 10 to 15 percent lower crop in Florida oranges, it seems unlikely that the official estimate will be substantially different-but it could be. At any rate, we'll know next week.
If the USDA numbers are in the same range as the private forecasts, returns to growers should see a little improvement for quality fruit.
NEW IPM MANUAL-
After over a year in the works, B-6121, "IPM in Texas Citrus" is
finally in print. It is over 50 pages of text, figures, charts and more
than 100 color pictures.
A discussion of soil salinity potential will be in the upcoming Citrus Center newsletter, which will probably be mailed next week. Meanwhile, I have continued checking into the situation and found an excellent discussion of salinity in citrus at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/AE171. The symptoms shown in this web article match quite nicely with what we are seeing in a number of Valley citrus orchards.
One additional symptom which we believe to be due to salinity is necrosis along the upper surface of the midrib of Rio Red grapefruit. If you look at Fig. 8 in this web article, envision the same types of marginal and tip spotting lined up continuously along the midrib, including that of the petiole wing.
Salinity problems worsen over time, which is to say that decreased yield, smaller fruit, smaller leaves, partial defoliation, twig dieback, et cetera don't just happen overnight. Instead, salinity is a chronic problem that, once determined, will also take time to correct.
Given excellent internal drainage, the problem will be attenuated with adequate irrigation and leaching rains. Where internal drainage is impeded by soil compaction, about the only remedy is deep chiseling to break the hardpan.
Chiseling the middles will sever a lot of roots, which will have to be regrown, but that is the price one must pay to overcome the problem. There are some supposed soil admendments or chemical treatments for salinity, but I don't know of any that have been proven effective in overcoming salinity problems caused by soil compaction that impedes internal drainage.
We did get some pretty good rains in September, which has helped the appearance of a lot of orchards. Fruit size has really started to increase in response to both the rainfall and the reduction in ambient temperatures. Fruit quality looks very good, so if fruit size continues to increase, good packouts should follow.
The rains have also spurred the growth of weeds, both broadleaf and grassy species. Since the soil has dried up now, most growers with weed problems are busy getting them back under control.
Rust mites have been spotty within groves, but many groves needed treatment even before the soil dried sufficiently to permit sprayer operation. Close monitoring is essential to maintain fruit quality, as there's no point in letting rust mites cause economic damage at this time in the season.
The hurricanes and tropical storms all went the other way-on both
coasts. The Conchos impoundments did get some water but certainly not
more than Chihuahua can capture and hold-which they have done, according
to the latest satellite imagery.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
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