IN THIS ISSUE:
NEW SEASON UPON US
THE TROPICS -
The tropics have been very active in August, with a number of named systems having hit the southeast and east in the last couple of weeks. Hurricane Charley caused significant damage in southwest and central Florida as it angled across the state on August 13. A number of estimates of damages to Florida’s orange crop have been propounded, with the overall loss expected to be somewhere in the high teens to as much as 20 percent of the orange crop. The main grapefruit areas of the Indian River and the Southwest or Gulf Districts were spared major damage, although grapefruit near the central path of the storm was damaged.
At 2:00 AST today (September 2), Hurricane Frances is a Category IV storm that is pounding the eastern Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph. Most of the east coast of Florida is under a hurricane warning-which means that hurricane conditions are possible, generally within 24 hours. While it is still about 400 miles from Florida’s lower east coast, its progress is currently about 13 mph, which means it could traverse about 300 miles in the next 24 hours. The current predicted track centers about Melbourne, FL, though its path has been ever so slightly curving a little more to the north over the last couple of days.
No one can predict with certainty what will happen to this storm in the next couple of days-but that’s the nature of such storms. Forecasters rely on a number of computer-generated models as they attempt to provide the absolute best information that is humanly possible, as far in advance as is possible. There is always the possibility that Frances will cross Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, re-intensify and bring misery to another area. For now, though, our thoughts are with Florida as she braces for the second Cat IV hurricane in three weeks.
A direct hit into the Indian River District would devastate that area’s fresh grapefruit crop; a near miss would still cause a lot of damage, as the larger size and weight of grapefruit at this time of year makes it especially vulnerable to strong winds. I still remember the huge numbers of grapefruit floating in the water furrows of Indian River groves following the passage of the first male-named hurricane (David) to hit the U.S. back in 1979 (that was my last year in Florida-the second male-named hurricane to hit the U.S. was Hurricane Allen, which came into the Valley in 1980-my first year here).
Rains returned to the Valley over the last week, some being in the 5-inches plus category. Inasmuch as this weekend is the opening of the whitewing dove season in south Texas, these rains are pretty much expected by dove hunters and those who cater to them during this time of year.
As you know, September is historically the wettest of months in the Valley, often bringing anywhere from a third to more than half of our annual rainfall total. Rainfall for the year is generally at or above average in most locations across the Valley going into this September.
NEW SEASON UPON US -
Next week is Labor Day, which usually signals the startup of harvesting the new season’s crop, as a few blocks of early oranges will begin to pass maturity standards. Once that begins, navels and other early oranges will begin to pass, followed finally by grapefruit.
The rains and irrigations have really helped the groves and the fruit this season, as the trees look great and the fruit has really sized up nicely. Splitting of navels has not been all that bad, though I have seen some splitting of round oranges this season. Sheepnosing of Rio has been a big question mark all season. To be sure, there is sheepnosing out there, but the amount and severity don’t seem to be all that bad.
There are groves with more rust mite damage than anyone would like to see, but rains in some areas back in the spring caused a delay in timely applications of controls or reduced the efficacy of controls that were applied. And with the rainy season upon us, you can be sure that rust mites will thrive and damage could intensify-especially if conditions are too wet to permit spraying.
NEW LEADERSHIPS -
Within the A & M system, Dr. Edward Hiler, Vice Chancellor and Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Director of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, retired at the end of August. The search for his replacement is still in progress.
Also, Dr. Chester Fehlis, Director of Texas Cooperative Extension, among other titles, retired at the end of August. Dr. Ed Smith is serving in the interim capacity during the search process. Dr. Fehlis will return in a month to assist in various capacities, including the leadership transition and budget preparations for the upcoming Texas legislative session.
You have undoubtedly heard that Dr. Jose Amador, Center Director at Weslaco, has announced his retirement for early in 2005. While relinquishing the reins of leadership, Jose will remain on board for several more months to work on a couple of projects in which he has long been involved.
Melinda Goodman recently resigned as Executive Director at TexaSweet to become the marketing manager of Four Seasons Trading Company of Donna. Succeeding her is Lucy Garcia, the former public relations director of TexaSweet.
Clay Everhard recently retired from Valley Ag and Bill Lyckman recently resigned from Texas Citrus Mutual. Anybody else?
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
Professor & Extension Horticulturist
2401 East Highway 83
Weslaco TX 78596
THE INFORMATION GIVEN HEREIN IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. REFERENCE TO COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS OR TRADE NAMES IS MADE WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT NO DISCRIMINATION IS INTENDED AND NO ENDORSEMENT BY THE COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE IS IMPLIED.
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