VOL. 21, NO. 5
IN THIS ISSUE:
No, it isn’t over, but if you listen carefully, you can hear the “fat lady” tuning up. Through April 21, the industry was down to 1.1 percent of grapefruit, 1.6 percent of earlies/mids and 2.8 percent of Valencias left. Through that date, fresh shipments equaled 8,714,507 carton equivalents—which is about half a million more than the total for last season.
Last month, I indicated that we could conceivably top 9 million cartons—but that seems rather unlikely now. According to TVCC reports, the remainder of the estimate totals only 210 thousand carton equivalents.
Sometime in April, the USDA-APHIS-PPQ was scheduled to release the first draft of its final rule concerning fresh citrus shipments from Florida next season—but I have not been able to run it down as yet. Obviously, Florida growers are hoping to be able to move back into the other citrus-producing states next season—which previously accounted for around six percent of Florida fresh sales—and probably most of those states are hoping that the rule will not allow that.
At issue is whether or not fruit that has gone through all the regulations and then is packed can, in fact, be a source of the citrus canker bacterium and pose a threat to other citrus-producing areas. While the USDA does not believe symptomless fruit to be of much risk to spread the disease, there remains concern about the potential that fruit with canker lesions could slip through the system.
According to the USDA, canker inspectors examined over 12,000 separate lots of fruit in Florida packinghouses earlier this season. Unfortunately, they found fruit with canker lesions in 40 of those lots. Only one lot in about 300 doesn’t seem all that bad, unless you’re in one of those areas trying to keep canker out.
WEATHER, OR NOT—
Actually, there is always weather of some kind—though perhaps not always to one’s liking. Rains early in the year may have lulled us into thinking that timely rains would continue to come as needed. For the onion folks, “no rain” is what they needed, so they are obviously pleased with the lack of rain, as it would have been really sad to see 20 dollar plus onions rotting in the field.
It is getting closer to the time when we’ll get a deluge—seems like it’s either that or hardly enough to settle the dust. The present weather pattern kind of reminds me of 1980 when I moved to the Valley—March and April were just plain hot, dry and dusty, but then five inches of rain fell at my house on Cinco de Mayo.
Will history repeat? Probably not, as the weather gurus put the best chances of significant rain behind us as April came to a close last night.
But, hurricane season is coming next month and those who make the early predictions are calling for a more active season than last year. Since last year was comparatively quiet in terms of tropical storms, it won’t take much to make for a more active season.
In terms of water supplies, the levels are coming down as irrigation season heats up. Since there has been little in the way of inflows, the reservoir levels should continue to drop through the coming weeks and months.
As you might recall, the final fruit drop period usually finishes in Valley groves by about the 20th of May—meaning that what you have left at that point is what you will have to harvest. Because of the lateness of this year’s bloom, I would not be surprised to see final fruit drop extend into June this season.
Actually, the period of final fruit drop was originally referred to as the “June drop”, as that’s when most of the pome fruits (apples and pears) and stone fruits (peaches and the like) undergo the final fruit drop period in more northern latitudes. For obvious reasons, the term isn’t much used in the more southerly latitudes, as many of the fruit varieties down south will have been harvested by June.
Whatever you call it, this drop in citrus is the final one that signals the end of the cell division process and the beginning of the cell enlargement process. For those “senior moments” among us, cell division determines how many cells the fruit will have (the more the better, within limits, as more cells mean larger fruit), while growth in fruit size from then on is merely a matter of the existing cells getting larger. In other words, by the end of May, the maximum size potential will have been established in your crop.
I am not seeing or hearing much in the way of serious rust mite problems at the moment, but that is not too surprising in view of the weather we have been experiencing. As you know from past experience, that situation could change in just a matter of a couple of weeks—given the necessary rainfall. I don’t know which is worse—not finding them and worrying that you haven’t looked hard enough or, having found sprayable populations, spraying and worrying whether you knocked them out before damage occurred.
On the weed front, there are a couple of new herbicides in the Florida market, but I don’t know whether the labels include Texas. Not to say we don’t need new materials, but I just haven’t had the time to work with these products. Too, my primary interest in any herbicide at the moment is whether or not it will kill existing vines and prevent their regrowth. I might even expand that interest to prickly pear, as it just keeps popping up under the tree skirts…
CITRUS FIESTA—MEDITERRANEAN STYLE—
If you care to see the imagery of some pretty creative and elaborate designs using whole fruits of lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits, you should check out the following link: http://menton.com/uk/lemons/2007ph.htm. You can choose between French, English and Italian languages, but the images require no language but the eyes.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
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