|IN THIS ISSUE:
THE STORM THAT WASN'T
THE STORM THAT WASN'T-
-At least not here. July started out with the promise of a rare tropical storm/hurricane that seemed destined to move straight up the Valley into our watersheds, providing us with much-needed rain, minimal winds and possibly some reservoir-filling. After nearly a week of preparations at home, business and in farms and groves, as well as canceled vacation plans, Monday morning dawned and the "sure thing" Claudette had moved off to the north, ultimately going inland in the Coastal Bend. As Claudette tracked rapidly across South Texas, she did put some rain into the two reservoirs-but not the amounts which could have been.
As for the Valley, we did receive some rain a couple of days later after the remnants of the storm were somewhere over the Big Bend or El Paso and rapidly moving westward. Not everyone was equally blessed, but every little bit helps.
The benefits of the limited rainfall have about played out in most groves, as many orchards are again in need of irrigation. A few isolated thunderstorms continued across the Valley, but they are not something on which you can rely until one actually starts raining over your grove. Fortunately, the start of our normal rainy season is just around the corner. Meanwhile, the dog days of August are upon us.
THE NEW SEASON-
While last season's harvest ended a good month or more earlier than it has in recent years, it is still hard to believe that harvest of the 2004 crop will start early next month as a few groves start to pass maturity tests. Fruit size is really good for the time of year?the weather has been good enough that the fruit has continued to grow throughout the summer. Early predictions as to the ultimate volume of fruit to be expected this season will soon be reported, wouldn't it be interesting to go back through the last several years to compare these early predictions with the season's ultimate production?
Given the fact that last season's production was down substantially from that of the year before, the alternate bearing cycle suggests that the coming crop will be up again, perhaps comparable to that of two years ago. Obviously, there are no guarantees-the coming crop is what it is and growers cannot impact it significantly at this point.
TEXAS PRODUCE CONVENTION AND TRADE SHOW-
The annual Texas Produce Convention and Trade Show is scheduled for August 20-23, 2003, at the South Padre Island Convention Center. A major focus of this year's program involves trade with Mexico, with a number of renowned speakers and participants. It is my understanding that there will not be a separate breakout session for citrus at this year's meet, but I don't know about the other groups which are part of the Texas Produce Association. The Trade Show is always an event to enjoy and to see some of the latest technology and equipment for the produce industry.
In addition, there's the golf tournament and a whole slue of other activities. Contact Texas Citrus Mutual or the Texas Produce Association for further details. Early registration has already ended, but you can still sign up for full price, the whole enchilada or by the day. I would advise you that tickets for some of the meals and extra events may not be available for the daily registrations.
Fruit size is not the only thing that has benefitted from recent weather-citrus
rust mites have been on a roller coaster all summer. First, they reach
damaging levels, then growers go in and knock them back for a few weeks
(if they're lucky), and then the mites return to damaging levels again
in a seemingly never-ending cycle. Growers experiencing difficulty in preventing
fruit damage are justifiably frustrated.
As for blaming the applicator, I won't deny that application problems
do occur from time to time.
SAD NEWS IN FLORIDA-
According to Associated Press news reports, Walter Brewer, the Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission, was killed in a fiery car wreck near Arcadia, FL, when his SUV caught fire after being struck by a stolen vehicle which was attempting to flee from police. Brewer was trapped inside his burning vehicle, but two young sons were able to escape. Brewer was appointed to a six-year term on the Florida Citrus Commission by Gov. Jeb Bush in 1999 and had been recently re-elected Chairman by his fellow commissioners. Our deepest sympathies to the Brewer family and friends.
As most of you know, Joel Wilsher has resigned his post at the TCX juice processing facility in Mission to accept a position in Florida, effective the first of this month. Joel has done an outstanding job at TCX over the last several years, especially in moving more concentrated grapefruit juice.
Meanwhile, the word is that the venerable Clyde Witte has agreed to come out of retirement for the umpteenth time to man the helm until a successor to Joel is found and hired. Good luck to you, Joel, and we wish you the best in your career in Florida.
The fiscal year at TCX ended July 31, so you should expect to receive checks for the 2001-02 grapefruit juice crop and the 2002-03 orange juice crop in the not too distant future, assuming the annual year-end audit is conducted speedily and without problem. In answer to the often-asked question as to why the grapefruit juice payment is always a year behind, there is simply more grapefruit juice produced each year than the market can absorb-so the juice plant usually has about a year's supply of grapefruit juice concentrate in storage. In other words, TCX has only just completed, or nearly so, the sale of the 2001-02 grapefruit juice that it processed, after which they will start selling last year's juice. Texas orange juice, however, is in sufficient demand and low enough supply that it is usually not a problem to move it in the same year that it is produced.
According to news reports, the special gift from Uncle Sam to South Texas farmers who have been impacted by Mexico's failure to honor its water treaty obligations was mailed by the Texas Department of Agriculture early last week. Hopefully, the news was accurate and your small check helped brighten the day for the agricultural loan officer at your bank.
SPEAKING OF THE WATER TREATY-
According to information provided by Gordon Hill of the Bayview Irrigation District, failing to honor its water commitments is not the only way in which Mexico is benefitting in this deal. As you may not have known, the dams at both Falcon and Amistad Reservoirs include hydroelectric generators that produce a significant amount of electricity as water is released. By treaty, the two nations share equally in the costs to construct and maintain the hydroelectric generation facilities, and they share equally in the electrical output.
On the surface of it, that seems like a fair enough deal. The problem,
as some folks see it, is that the treaty framers probably expected both
governments to honor their water sharing agreements (although only the
US has done so) and that there would be more or less equal volumes of water
from both nations released from the dams to turn those turbines. In other
words, the electricity would be generated equally from the water releases
of both nations. Obviously, Mexico's share of the waters over the last
few years has been substantially less than that of the US, which means
that the vast majority of the electrical output was provided by the release
of US waters-yet Mexico still receives half of all the electricity generated
at Falcon and Amistad.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
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