|IN THIS ISSUE:
Insofar as the citrus industry is concerned, the initial assessment that was e-mailed a couple of days after the storm passed to our south was on-target. There have been no additional reports of damage any more serious than the minor leaf loss that was reported.
Rainfall in the watershed was mostly light to non-existent; the amounts in the Valley were in the two-to four-inch range.
TEXAS PRODUCE CONVENTION-
This annual event featuring the combined efforts of several fruit and vegetable organizations will take place at South Padre Island on August 10-12, 2005. Headquarters is the Sheraton Beach Hotel. The Wednesday events are all fun-a fishing tournament and a golf tournament, followed by the Opening Reception at Louie's Backyard. The program events are set for all day Thursday and Friday morning.
In a departure from the normal, the trade show is planned as "tabletop" exhibits only, so companies won't have the expense of major booth setup. It is believed that this format will allow greater exposure and interaction between exhibitors and attendees. For more information, contact the Texas Produce Association at 956/581-8632. Electronic information is also available (see below).
Valley Ag Insurance, Texas Citrus Mutual, and Texas Vegetable Association have teamed up to create a website-http://www.valleyag.org. Within it, each has its own subdirectory. Both the TCM and TVA include a "members only" section. Most of the details about the upcoming Texas Produce Convention are also included, with printable forms for registration, et cetera.
As a further sign of the times within our industry, The Grower newsletter from Texas Citrus Mutual is about to become a thing of the past. It will be replaced by a weekly electronic newsletter, to be known as Citrus and Vegetable e-Weekly. Fax receipt is apparently an option for those without e-mail, though I daresay if you don't have computer e-mail, you probably won't have a fax machine either.
From those of us who embarked on this course some years ago, albeit kicking and screaming in some cases, welcome.
Until Emily, the general lack of rainfall had helped to keep citrus rust mites in pretty good check. That should be expected to change as the weather moves into the (hopefully) normal (wetter) weather pattern of late summer.
Where dry weather had also helped orchard weed control, the two weeks since the rain has stimulated weed seed germination in areas where the herbicide program is beginning to break.
As usual, there are always flare-ups of other pests in more or less isolated areas, such as whitefly, blackfly, leafminers, other mites (Texas citrus and false spider), leafhoppers, et cetera. The armored scales such as California red, Florida red and chaff, are mature and in place on the fruit, so don't expect a contact insecticide to provide much control at this time. Control requires the smothering action of oil sprays.
With the recent mailing of checks from Edinburg Citrus Association, the 2004-05 season results are now being solicited by the Texas Citrus Growers League relative to production and returns for the season. If you are a member of the League, do your part and report your actual returns per ton for all varieties you harvested last season. This way, the League can summarize the average returns for each variety for the season, as well as the average payouts per ton by each of the respective packinghouses.
The returns from ECA have a caveat that you should be aware of-the costs for eliminations were included in the bottom line and in the average returns per ton, with some allowance for the "spot" price for juice fruit. However, the full return for juice fruit will not be known until about this time next year, as the Texas Citrus Exchange does not pay the total for juice fruit until it has pretty much sold all of the juice that it processed.
If you recall, TCX paid off the juice for the 2003-04 season-both oranges and grapefruit-a couple of months ago. In years past, the orange juice payout usually occurred about the time of the startup of the new season while the grapefruit juice payout was usually delayed another year. Because of excess orange juice a couple of years ago, the orange juice payout has now become comparable (in time) with that for grapefruit juice, i.e., more than a year after the close of the season in question.
As expected, the grapefruit season was pretty good pricewise-although volume was problematic. When you look at returns for Texas Fancy Rio Red grapefruit, the larger sizes were phenomenal. However, nobody has yet figured out how to grow only large, Fancy grade grapefruit-so when the returns for medium and smaller sizes of Fancy fruit, Choice fruit that was sold, Choice fruit that went to the juice plant because it was not sold, and packinghouse eliminations are factored in, the average returns per ton drop dramatically.
Nothing has been making any kind of size lately-the fruit just seems to be sitting still. Oranges are not much bigger than a golf ball; grapefruit sizes are all over the place, depending on which bloom(s) set. The normal scenario is that fruit size doesn't change much during the hottest part of the summer, so that part is almost normal. This season, however, I think the hottest part of the summer started about late April or early May and didn't let up until Emily brushed by-but it is back again with a passion.
Increased cloud cover and occasional scattered showers are necessary to cool things off to the point that fruit growth can get cranking. Even though the "dog days" continue into September, the clouds have been fairly common lately and the rain forecasters keep putting up a "chance" of showers, so it shouldn't be long now. Traditionally, some early oranges (probably Parson Browns-there are a few acres around) start meeting maturity standards in early September, and that's only a few weeks away.
As pointed out last month, Bayer did receive label approval for EnvidorŪ miticide. According to our local Bayer reps, Steve Frazier and Gary Schwarzlose, at a luncheon hosted by them at Cimarron Country Club early last month, this material is effective on all species of mites which are present in Texas citrus groves. In addition, the other good news about the product is that the materials cost for the 20-ounce rate (the rate recommended for use with oil sprays) is competitive with other miticides. Product is available from local distributors.
FLORIDA'S CANKER WOES-
The continued discovery of new canker infestations has not been unexpected, though many in the industry wonder if it will ever end. Each new find in a commercial grove can take out about 260 acres of citrus. With the new storm season underway, eradication officials have stepped up their efforts to push infected and/or exposed trees.
Because of the shortage of people willing to work as surveyors for canker, the industry took what I think was a long-overdue step to train growers in the identification of the disease. Growers are in the groves on a regular basis and are well qualified to spot something out of the ordinary. The opposing sentiment is that growers might be reluctant to report suspicious symptoms, knowing what will happen should canker be discovered in their own orchards.
Hurricane Dennis came out of the Caribbean crossed over Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico and entered the U.S. near Pensacola, FL, back in early July. According to reports, Cuba?s grapefruit crop was nearly wiped out, with only about 20 percent of the fruit left on-tree. Even that should be pretty well beat up; so much of it won't make the quality demanded of Cuba's export markets.
South Africa is trying to fill the void, but drought conditions there
have resulted in smaller fruit sizes. It is possible that Mexico and
Honduras will try to move some fruit into the gap, as fruit in the tropics
matures a bit earlier than it does in temperate climates. Florida grapefruit
won't be ready until September; the maturity standards for Texas grapefruit
are higher than for Florida, so our harvest won't get underway until
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
| Valley Citrus Notes Index | Aggie Horticulture |