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Well, the 2001-2002 season is finally over, and the industry shipped more than 10 million cartons of fresh citrus, topping last year's volume by almost 3.5 percent. Total fresh grapefruit was up 1.2 percent at 7,546,716 cartons. Early oranges were up 16.6 percent at 1,675,403 cartons; navels were up 13.7 percent to 650,260 cartons, but Valencias dropped 17.2 percent to 306,562 cartons.
The total grapefruit harvest was 240,180 tons, which is 44,000 tons below the April estimate. Early and navel orange tonnage was 65,004, or about 870 tons below the April estimate. Valencia tonnage was 8,649, which was 150 tons above the April estimate. Obviously, all volumes were substantially below 2000-01 production levels-grapefruit by nearly 16 percent, early and navel oranges by 23 percent and Valencias by 12 percent.
Given the comparisons between total production in 2000-01 and 2001-02, the trend to alternation is quite apparent. Thus, the current crop should come in significantly higher than the one just finished, although the lingering drought and irrigation shortages could certainly reduce the volume of the coming crop.
RAIN AND WATER-
The final weekend of June brought good rains to much of the Valley, along with confirmation of the "contingent" transfer of 90,000 acre feet of water in the reservoirs from Mexican to U.S. ownership. In the short term, the impact of the rains is far more significant, as drought-stressed citrus, cotton and cane benefitted immediately and can probably go another month or so on the rain received.
The 90,000 acre-feet won't go very far when it is finally allocated among all irrigation districts and other water rights holders. To put the best possible spin on the significance of this transfer, it may be the first step on the long road to a repayment program of the Mexican deficit. Make no mistake about it, repayment in toto will be a long time coming, unless a succession of very wet storms, occurs across the major watersheds.
Improvements to irrigation infrastructures are expensive and time-consuming. While some monies are promised (the NADBank monies are loans, not grants), officials are talking about improvement projects over the next four years.
So, little will change in the next several months. Instead of a projected 1.644 million acre feet deficit total on September 30, we're now looking at only 1.55 million. But don't forget that word "contingent" in the opening sentence that 90,000 acre feet is subject to being returned to Mexico if conditions warrant.
RIGHTS VS. USAGE-
As has been stated before, Valley irrigators are going to have to rely upon themselves to continue to operate-not on the hope of treaty compliance. Some have been quick to blame waste and inefficiency, as well as conversion to more water intensive crops, in Chihuahua as the root of the problem and there is considerable justification for those complaints. But, in the words of an old folk song from days of yore, "you'd better look around in your own back yard".
Class "A" irrigation water rights provide 30 inches of water per acre per year (rights, not allocations, as you well know). For too many years, the water applied to too many acres has exceeded the rights of those acres. Improvement to canals isn't going to change that practice growers must also learn to live within their water means. And, irrigation districts must uphold the rights of all water users by curtailing deliveries in excess of rights.
In those orchards which received significant rainfall, cultural activities will be on hold until the floor dries sufficiently to permit operations again. However, pest populations may start to build, especially after the rains, so don't relax the scouting efforts. Since we have entered mid-summer, Temik® should start to play out-leading to increases in citrus rust mite activity.
July is also a traditional time for the control of scale insects, most notably California red scale, Florida red scale, chaff scale and others. According to Dr. Vic French, barnacle scale is making a comeback, particularly in the Upper Valley where Florida red scale has been problematic in recent seasons.
Among the available scalicides, most growers rely on Lorsban® for scale control, often to their dismay. Lorsban® is very effective on scale crawlers, but does not kill scales which already have the hard, waxy covering that gives them their common name. Citrus spray oil provides control of both crawlers and the sedentary, waxy-covered adults and older nymphs.
The summer flush should be a good one, following the rainfall. As such, one should expect to see population increases in Asian citrus leafminer, Asian citrus psyllid, blackflies and other pests that traditionally attack new growth flushes.
In an effort to understand the water deal, I checked http:// www.presidencia.gov.mx (Presidente Fox's website) and http://www.ibwc.state.gov/PAO/public_affairs (IBWC's press release site), the latter of which includes a draft copy of Minute Order 308. First, the 90,000 acre feet contingent transfer.
The contingency is that if, by 10/26/02, new Mexican inflows have replaced the 90,000 acre feet, we get to keep it. But, it will cost us an estimated 28,845 acre feet in conveyance losses (of the new inflows from their origins into the international reservoirs), which amount will be allocated to Mexico from U.S. waters.
If Mexican inflows do not fully replace the 90,000 acre feet, the difference will be allocated to Mexico from U.S. waters on 10/26/02. Presumably, the conveyance loss of 28,845 acre feet would be reduced accordingly.
At that point, if Mexico's total share of waters in the reservoirs is less than 243,213 acre feet, provided that Mexican releases from the reservoirs are consistent with their withdrawals for the same time last year, the U.S. will transfer sufficient water to Mexico to achieve that volume. Such transfer would be repaid with Mexican-source water in excess of 243,213 acre feet.
This latter paragraph is intended to assure a 10-month supply of municipal water for Mexico's communities on the Rio Grande. The Fox website cites Article 9(f) of the 1944 Treaty, but Minute 308 does not. For the record, Article 9(f) reads: "In case of the occurrence of an extraordinary drought in one country with an abundant supply of water in the other country, water stored in the international reservoirs and belonging to the country enjoying such abundant water supply may be with-drawn, with the consent of the Commission, for the use of the country undergoing the drought."
Essentially, the inclusion of this provision in Minute 308 insures that municipal waters for Mexico will be forthcoming-regardless of any possible interpretation of the meaning of Article 9(f). It doesn't matter how much water the U.S. does or doesn't have, and it doesn't matter if the U.S. is also in an extraordinary drought (Mexico's definition) and doesn't have "abundant water" in storage.
Mexico's Comision Nacional de Agua estimated, with a 90-percent probability, the potential inflows into the Rio Grande from the six named tributaries during June-September. Minute 308 includes those estimates, which amount to 43,454 acre feet for the U.S. share. That implies an additional 86,908 acre feet for the Mexican share not quite enough to replace the "contingent" 90,000 acre feet, though the shortfall might be expected to come in October, before the 26th.
That may explain how the 90,000 acre feet number was selected and it may just be coincidence. Regardless, if the estimates are close to being on target, Mexico gets its 90,000 acre feet and 64 percent of our 45,000 acre feet share (the 28,845 acre feet conveyance loss, remember?).
The rest of the text of Minute 308 "observes" or "notes" information relative to potential investments in infrastructure improvements, sources of such investments and allied matters of accountability, conservation, management, et cetera. Funding sources include NADBank, the U.S. Treasury Department, the Mexican government and other international funding institutions.
Aside from the fact that U.S. dollars will be involved in Mexico, it is interesting that Mexico projects a total water savings of 367,251 acre feet of water over the next four years from an investment of about $196 million in that period. That figures out to about 91,800 acre feet annually of which our share, when it reaches the Rio Grande, would be a mere 30,600 acre feet. Given the same 32 percent conveyance loss rate estimated in the second paragraph of this discourse, we would net less than 21,000 acre feet per year, from whatever dollars the U.S. invests in Mexico's improvements over the next four years.
Finally, Minute 308 states that the two governments will continue discussions through the IBWC regarding measures to be taken concerning the deficit in the allocation of water from the Mexican tributaries.
In summary, the agreement does nothing about the deficit or its repayment, we get 90,000 acre feet of water now at a cost of an estimated 28,845 acre feet conveyance loss to be repaid on October 26, the projected improvements in Mexico's irrigation infrastructure over the next four years will net us only about 21,000 acre feet of water per year, and we are going to put up an as yet undetermined amount of money to help fund those improvements.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
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