VOL. 22, NO. 4
IN THIS ISSUE:
FLORIDA BOX TAX
LEMONS TO THE SOUTH
It is entirely possible that the current season will terminate this month, as packers are winding down. Word is that one major will close this week—if so, others cannot be too far behind.
There is still a lot of fruit out there, but an unknown quantity of it is what's left of groves that have been ring picked a couple of times, so it is to be expected that more of that fruit will be picked direct to processing. Early and mid season oranges are gone, the Valencia crop is fast disappearing.
In what the experts are calling a semi-normal year, more than 100 Mexican fruit flies have been found in the Valley—mostly in the last month. Some of these flies, because of their maturity, were believed to have been blown in from across the river during the extremely strong winds that occurred in March.
The result of the finds is that the eastern Valley (Zone 5) was quarantined initially, followed every few days with quarantines on Zone 4, then Zone 3 and then Zone 2. I have not heard the status of Zone 1 (the far western Valley).
The protocol requires that fruit from a quarantined zone must be fumigated in order to be shipped into other citrus-producing areas. Another aspect of the protocol is that fruit within a quarantined zone that is from a grove with a local infestation must be fumigated in order to be shipped to any other state.
A local infestation is defined as two fly finds within a certain distance; I think 500 meters, but don’t quote me on that. The underlying reason for this part of the protocol is potential transhipment into other citrus-producing areas. In other words, fruit that is sold and shipped into a state close to a citrus-producing state could conceivably end up in the citrus-producing state.
Florida Box Tax—
Florida citrus is subject to a box tax—voted on by growers—that is used for marketing, advertising and other reasons (like research, for example). Juice importers had to pay an equivalent tax on imported juice, but rulings a few years ago allowed importers to opt out of paying the roughly two-thirds of the tax that was used in marketing and advertising.
There is a move afoot now to rectify this perceived unfairness to Florida growers and require taxes on the juice that is imported (both FCOJ and NFC) to be blended and sold from Florida. The way I understand it is that rather than paying by the box for fruit going to juice, the tax would be imposed on the gallons of juice coming out of the processor.
If promoters can successfully craft the proposal to withstand legal challenges, they might still face trade policy problems. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
Lemons to the South—
According to The Packer, Unimark Group of Dallas has sold its lemon groves in Mexico to Paramount Citrus (California), which expects to import lemons into the US through McAllen, starting this summer. The approximately 6,000 acres of lemons are in two orchards that were part of the Grupo Industrial Santa Engracia subsidiary of Unimark.
Much of the production from that operation has been packed in the Valley during the last several seasons, and that may continue this coming summer. However, it is very likely that Paramount will construct a packing facility near their groves.
If you follow FCOJ prices, you know how much they have dropped in recent months. The irony is that Valencia is the major crop for FCOJ in Florida and processors normally pay more for Valencia solids than for those from early and mid season oranges. This season, however, the average price for the latter was $1.47 per pound of solids, yet the current pricing is such that Valencia solids are likely to average lower. The price of May futures at the end of March was in the $1.10 range, though Valencia solids may fetch a bit more than that.
The reasons for low Valencia solids prices include a fairly high inventory of FCOJ, less retail demand for orange juice, a higher Valencia crop (still lower than historic crops in Florida), and more imported juice.
Though we in Texas are less concerned about juice prices, the fact is that the price of juice tends to serve as a floor for fresh fruit, especially for Choice (No. 2) fruit. That growers here are paid on tons of juice fruit rather than pounds of solids does not alter the fact that falling juice prices tend to depress the price of fresh fruit. The large Valencia production in California isn’t helping, either.
Now that the spring flush has come and gone, Valencia oranges are experiencing the usual re-greening. Just as grapefruit gets a little softer at this time of year, Valencia oranges re-green.
In addition to re-greening, some Valencia fruit have never colored because they came from a later bloom. That fruit is mature and tastes great, but the rind has always been green.
Degreening of re-greened Valencias is not as easy to accomplish as to degreen fruit in the fall. Often, the time and conditions under which it can be de-greened may result in increased post harvest losses. Consequently, packouts might decline due to greater overall decay and the elimination of greener fruit during grading.
Basically, there hasn’t been any except what has been supplied by irrigation. Rain has been missing since the little bit that we had in January, and that was about the only significant rain since September. The onion folks are really hoping the dry weather lasts through their harvest, but almost everyone else would like some relief from the dry weather.
Fortunately, storage in the reservoirs is in good shape, so there is ample water for irrigation—for the time being. Oddly enough, I believe the years-long drought was finally declared to be over during the rainy summer of last year. It’s looking as though another one has started.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
Professor & Extension Horticulturist
2401 East Highway 83
Weslaco TX 78596
THE INFORMATION GIVEN HEREIN IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES
ONLY. REFERENCE TO COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS OR TRADE NAMES IS MADE WITH THE
UNDERSTANDING THAT NO DISCRIMINATION IS INTENDED AND NO ENDORSEMENT BY
THE COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE IS IMPLIED.
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