|IN THIS ISSUE:
GRAPEFRUIT AND MEDICINES
As you know, grapefruit contains a component that interferes with the partial breakdown of certain prescription medications, resulting in somewhat higher uptake than intended by the manufacturer of the drug in question. According to a Reuters news item of May 9, 2006, Dr. Paul Watkins and colleagues at the University of North Carolina have identified that component of grapefruit juice: furanocoumarin.
During tests, the researchers filtered the furanocoumarin out of grapefruit juice, making it less bitter than usual (obviously not Texas fruit!). They concluded that furanocoumarin could be added to some formulations of certain drugs to improve their absorption efficiency. Too, because furanocoumarin can be filtered out of grapefruit juice, there is the potential for processors to produce a furanocoumarin-free grapefruit juice.
FINAL CROP UTILIZATION-
The numbers finished pretty much as indicated last month-almost exactly the same volume of grapefruit and oranges were shipped fresh in 2006 as in 2005: 8,697,000 cartons this year compared to 8,674,000 cartons in 2005. Grapefruit came in at 6,250,000 cartons, up 11,000 cartons from the year before.
Some 59.9 percent of our total grapefruit production went fresh this year, compared to 45.8 percent a year ago. Early and navels came in at 79.6 percent fresh versus only 68.8 percent a year ago, while Valencias finished at 87.3 percent fresh versus 64.1 percent last year.
The 10-year average for fresh utilization, 1996-97 through 2005-06, is 60.3 percent for grapefruit, 69.8 percent for early and navels, and 73.5 percent for Valencias.
Interestingly, grapefruit and Valencia oranges are still being harvested in Florida, despite the reduced total crop there.
Believe it or not, the first significant rainfall in eight months occurred on the 15th of May, mostly during the pre-dawn hours. Amounts varied from a little over two inches at the coast to less than half that in the upper end of the Lower Valley, but apparently everybody got some.
Given the dryness to that time, and the amount that fell, it didn't last much over a week to 10 days in most soils, as the prevailing hot and dry weather conditions returned a couple of days later.
The past week brought another chance of rain, and reports are that up to three inches fell in some areas. As I saw it, areas that didn't receive significant rainfall outnumbered those that did. The Coastal Bend south towards Kingsville, however, was inundated, with reports of 11 to 15 inches having fallen in the area.
With the assistance of John Fucik and others, Asian citrus psyllids were discovered in several dooryard trees in the Port Aransas area in mid-May. Although there were none detected in the couple of sites examined in Corpus Christi, they do appear to have been there in the recent past.
Further up the coast, Vic French and cohorts had an exhaustive trip to the Houston area, visiting large nurseries, retail nurseries and numerous private plantings. Believe it or not, the only psyllids they found were in a planting at the Harris County Extension Office. Hopefully, those will be quickly suppressed and eliminated.
Additional trips are planned in the near future. Meanwhile, there is a flicker of hope that the psyllid may not be well-established in the upper coast.
FLORIDA CANKER AND FRESH FRUIT SHIPMENTS-
Now that citrus canker eradication is no longer a feasible option in Florida, the matter of fresh fruit shipments has become somewhat of a major issue. The concern by industries outside of Florida is that citrus canker might be spread on fresh fruit, while the Florida industry is concerned with the economic hardship should their fruit be quarantined from other states.
The USDA is proposing to prohibit the movement of all fruit from Florida to other citrus-producing states, which obviously include the major markets in California and Texas. The Florida industry is quite naturally concerned about that idea, and has a counter-proposal on the table. The Florida proposal is to inspect the groves two months before harvest, and to impose stricter sanitary procedures at all fresh fruit packinghouses.
In the meantime, canker quarantines still exist in Florida and no citrus material can be moved out of the affected zone; to any other part of the state. This includes citrus fruit, also, and homeowners as well as packinghouses.
There was a major teleconference on the matter late last week involving the USDA and state and industry officials from Florida, Texas, California and Arizona. It is anticipated that the USDA will make a decision sometime this week.
Note: It was announced late Tuesday that USDA has rejected Florida's proposal and will ban the shipment of all fresh citrus fruit from Florida to all other citrus-producing states.
Irrespective of the recent hit or miss rains, the reservoirs have continued to drop. During the first five months of the year, the US share of waters has declined from the high 90s to the low 80s percent of conservation level. Mexico's share has declined from the middle 40s to the low 30s percent of conservation level. Obviously, there has been very little in the way of inflows.
Hopefully, now that sorghum harvest is underway, and some corn is already being harvested, irrigation demand should be on the downswing at the present time. Historically, June is one of the wetter months in south Texas.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
| Valley Citrus Notes Index | Aggie Horticulture |