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My last assessment that the Valley is still under drought conditions has been borne out in an article in the local paper (Valley Morning Star, Nov. 30, p. B6) in which it was reported that the shortfall in average annual rainfall this year ranges from just over 5 inches in McAllen to a little over 11 inches in Harlingen and over 14 inches in Brownsville. Fortunately, the waters in storage in the two international reservoirs upriver are pretty close to conservation level at just over 98 percent. As a consequence, there is sufficient water available to meet the Valley's needs for the next couple of years.
However, waste is not an option, as heavy demand on stored waters without substantial replenishment from rainfall in the watersheds could put all users in jeopardy rather quickly. It seems like a long time ago that a number of water districts quit delivering water in the middle of the summer, but those days could return sooner than any of us would like.
Texas Valley Citrus Committee reports on fresh fruit utilization continue to show excellent movement of grapefruit, as volume is running about two-thirds more than the same time last season. Navel orange volume is essentially about the same as a year ago, but early orange volume is not keeping pace, being only about two-thirds of what it was a year ago.
Export grapefruit is a little behind last season, but almost all of the movement this season occurred in the two-week period ending November 19, so we should expect to see this category really pick up in the next few weeks.
Prices into late November were in the range of $10 to $18 a carton for Rio Star Fancy, which is not so high as to really dampen demand. Early oranges were running about $8 to $10, while navels were $9 to $11.
TCE ENTOMOLOGY POSITION-
About three years after Stormy Sparks left the Valley for Georgia, Texas Cooperative Extension is in the process of filling his position. So far this week, two of three candidates have interviewed in Weslaco, so one could anticipate that we'll have a new person on board in the not too distant future. The entomology position is for all agriculture (and urban entomology); Stormy was on a 75-25 Extension-Research joint appointment, so one might expect the new position to be a joint appointment between Texas Cooperative Extension and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.
This position should not be confused with the Citrus and Vegetable IPM position that Juan Anciso held until he moved into the Vegetable Specialist position at Weslaco. That position is what might be called "history". The position was not lost per se, it was simply moved to another location to work IPM on other crops. Our loss, somebody else's gain.
CITRUS GREENING SEMINAR-
Bayer Crop Science and IFAS are sponsoring an important seminar on citrus greening in Lake Alfred, FL next Tuesday, to which Dr. Vic French and I have been invited-so we're going. Hopefully, we will learn how Florida intends to live with the disease as well as how others (such as South Africa) have done so.
Obviously, we don't want to have to make that choice in Texas, but we need to be prepared for that eventuality. Our first defense, of course, lies over in SE Texas where we hope that we can intercept and eliminate the bacterium before it can be moved into the Valley. To that end, there is a significant effort being planned that should be getting underway pretty soon.
Drs. da Graca, French, Skaria and I intend to put together a series of images of citrus greening disease and its Asian citrus psyllid vector that we can make available to county Extension agents and their Master Gardener volunteers throughout the area where dooryard citrus is grown in Texas. The idea is to post it on the Citrus Directory of the Aggie-Horticulture website, with links from other websites, so that it is readily available to everyone who has an interest in citrus in Texas and would like to continue to see citrus thrive in the state.
Hopefully, with a lot of local aficionados (who really prize their
dooryard citrus trees, by the way) checking for the presence of the psyllid,
we should be able to get a quick handle on its distribution in the state-and
insofar as I know today, we don't know exactly where it is outside the
Valley. With that information, we can better concentrate efforts on strategies
to control the psyllid and to diagnose the disease itself. Obviously,
there should be no greening in areas where the psyllid is not present.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
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