VOL. 21, NO. 10
IN THIS ISSUE:
There has been no word from the USDA as yet on the final rule regarding the shipment of citrus from Florida. As you might remember, the current rule (i.e., last year) was that fruit from a grove that was found to have canker could not be shipped to any state. The USDA has proposed a new rule for the season now underway to remove the grove restriction in favor of better inspections in the packinghouse.
Part of the problem that won't go away is that researchers with the USDA (at Fort Pierce), the University of Florida and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have conducted two studies in which they failed to obtain transmission of the disease from diseased fruit to either other fruit or trees.
Naturally, California is protesting in the most vigorous of terms and Texas agrees with California. Harvest has commenced (and you don't harvest this early for the juice plant!), so Florida shippers need to know the rules.
The crop estimates are due to be released in early October, but there is some news already about California. It seems that the California navel estimate is 43 million boxes, which is up about a fourth from last season. Because "boxes" means different things in different places, the 1.61 million tons comes out to 75 pounds of oranges in a California box.
Ain't it weird? Florida oranges are measured as a 90-box, Texas oranges as an 85-pound box and California has a 75-pound box. Yet, none of them actually uses a "box" to determine production--they all simply divide total pounds picked by the appropriate 90, 85, or 75 figure to derive a box count. At least in Texas, we measure in tons--though the USDA crop reports still use "boxes".
Meanwhile, California will likely start replacing Valencias with navels toward the end of the month, certainly by early November.
FLORIDA TREE LOSSES
NASS reported the results of a recent survey of just over half the total citrus acreage in Florida, in seven of the top 10 citrus-producing counties. Since 2006, 4.1 percent of the acreage has been lost in these seven counties.
Specialty fruit took the biggest hit (down nearly 15 percent), while grapefruit showed a loss of almost five percent and oranges were down near 3.5 percent. The full report is on the web at http://www.nass.usda.gov (you'll have to look around when you get there).
Why such losses? Diseases (canker and greening) and urbanization--like in Texas and most everywhere else, land that grows good citrus also makes good homesites.
If it wasn't already bad enough, Florida's imperial Polk County is the 26th citrus-producing county to have confirmed cases of citrus greening disease. Ironically, one of the discoveries was in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' own citrus arboretum in Winter Haven.
AND IN TEXAS
Edinburg Citrus opened the Texas season about mid-September with early oranges and navels. Since then, grapefruit have begun to pass, so the activity will really pick up throughout October.
The consensus of opinion is that the crop will be a bit short of last season, but the quality will be up. I love optimism. The USDA report will be out soon, so that should give us a starting point.
I don't know the date of the Crop Estimate release, but it is usually on Friday in early October. If so, it could be as early as October 5 or as late as October 12. If you keep checking the NASS website a few paragraphs back, you won't miss it.
They weren't what we are used to, but then the rains through much of June, July and August weren't either. Still, there were some rains early, and there are some threatening for the last few days of the mont--but I expect the monthly average to be substantially below historic levels (unless we get a couple of gully-washers over the weekend).
With most of the irrigation season behind us (except for citrus and fall/winter vegetables), the water situation in the reservoirs looks pretty good at just over 90 percent of conservation level.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
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