VOL. 21, NO. 7
IN THIS ISSUE:
RAIN AND WATER
RAIN AND WATER
A rare phenomenon occurred in late May and again in late June--the Valley was blessed with some pretty good rains. The May rains were heaviest in the Lower Valley, while the June rains were heaviest in the Upper Valley. The Mid-Valley kinda got the leavings from both systems, as the rain at my home in Weslaco was substantially less than what I have seen in both the Lower and Upper Valley areas.
Despite the good rains, the interval between them was long enough that most crops had been or were being irrigated when the June system occurred.
IBWC data of June 16 show that the US share of water in the reservoirs is at 82 percent of conservation level, while Mexico's share is at only 32.5 percent of conservation level. The US share is a bit surprising in light of the spring irrigation season--unless some of the water is from in-storage transfers of ownership.
The current five-year cycle in the Water Treaty is due to end on September 30, 2007. For the cycle as reported on June 2, 2007, Mexico is short some 374,494 acre feet in meeting its treaty obligations regarding delivery to the US. Unless something dramatic occurs, there is a real possibility that the current cycle will end with Mexico still in arrears. Even so, one has to applaud the fact that Mexico has erased the deficits from both the 1992-97 and 1997-2002 cycles during the current cycle.
The USDA is proposing to change the rules regarding the movement of citrus from the quarantined area of Florida to other states. Essentially, they are proposing to eliminate the requirement for grove inspections in favor of more inspections in the packinghouse. As stated currently, fruit must be surface disinfected in a packinghouse under a compliance agreement and each lot of fruit inspected at the packinghouse be found to be free of visible symptoms.
The proposal is still under review and the USDA will accept comments through July 23. For more information, see http://www.regulations.govRef. Docket No: APHIS-2007-0022 Citrus Canker; Movement of Fruit From Quarantined Areas.
Possibly the stickiest issue in the proposed change has to do with the definition of "lot". As written, a "lot" is an inspectional unit for fruit of a single variety that is run through the packinghouse in one continuous run not to exceed one day. A day's run might be anywhere from a couple of thousand cartons to 15-20 thousand, depending on variety, market and capacity of the facility. There is some expectation that this definition might be broken down into smaller units--like a typical truckload, for instance.
Opposition is expected to come from the European Union, because the EU requires grove inspections in accordance with the regulations as they were last season. Naturally, California and Texas may be expected to oppose the change.
July futures contracts for FCOJ have dropped to the lowest level in the last year and a half, being down in the low $1.20s range. Apparently, speculators expect the crop that is currently developing in Florida to erase the losses of the last few years and return to substantially higher levels of production.
Since July futures are now history, attention will turn to September contracts. With the continued absence of any serious weather in the tropics, one might expect futures prices to continue to fall. However, any tropical storm that develops anywhere remotely close to Florida will likely send prices back up.
In December, 2005, Florida Citrus Mutual filed suit with the US International Trade Commission against Brazilian orange juice processors, claiming that the Brazilians were "dumping" FCOJ (selling at prices lower that the cost of production) in an effort to destroy the Florida industry and achieve a near-monopoly on the international FCOJ market.
In March, the ITC voted in favor of Florida, which action sent the suit to the US Court of International Trade in New York. In April, Chief Judge Restani sent the suit back to the ITC to further consider how the alleged dumping harmed Florida citrus growers.
Now, the ITC has reaffirmed its earlier decision and the case goes back to Judge Restani. She apparently has three options: Uphold the ITC decision and impose retaliatory tariffs of 10-60 percent on all Brazilian OJ imports into the US; Send it back to the ITC a second time; or Overturn the ITC.
Summer is that time in a citrus grower's life when the previous season's fruit has all been harvested (and the checks are in the bank) and the current season's crop has finally set. About the only worries of note are rust mites, scale and a few other "nasties" that usually require control around about the Fourth of July, give or take a couple of weeks or so.
Often, July (and August) does not provide enough rain to preclude the need for irrigation. Aside from the need to spray and to water, there is not much else of concern except to watch the fruit grow.
TEXAS CITRUS GROWERS LEAGUE
The annual meeting of the League will be held on Thursday, July 12, at 11:30 in the Rio Red Room of the Texas A&M University--Kingsville Citrus Center at Weslaco. Lunch is included, so they do need to know about how many members will be attending. E-mail your intent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Membership dues for the 2007-08 season are now due and payable--$50 if you have more than 100 acres, otherwise $10.
One of the good works that the League has done in the past is to accumulate and publish grower prices for the season. In the past, these were posted by variety and by packinghouse, but prices for the 2005-06 season are reported only for variety. While the numbers look pretty good, particularly when compared to this season, the survey represented only about 8.0 percent of the total acreage.
If you can make it, please do. I cannot, as I have a prior commitment to Boy Scouts--a week with nature at Camp Perry.
While it has not been detected in all Peninsula Florida counties, citrus greening has been confirmed in 22 citrus-producing counties and is suspected in another. From Hillsborough County (Tampa) south on the Gulf Coast, across to the Atlantic and then north to Volusia County (Daytona Beach), all but Indian River County (Vero Beach) has one or more diagnoses of citrus greening. To date, greening has not been detected in Lake County (Orlando), Polk County (Lakeland) nor Hardee County (Wauchula). Greening is suspected, but undetected in Marion County (Ocala).
Florida is working to develop compliance agreements as to what growers will do to control greening, such as more inspections for the disease and/or psyllid control efforts. Meanwhile, Texas has adopted the USDA-APHIS-PPQ protocols, with few modifications, for citrus greening.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
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