VOL. 22, NO. 5
IN THIS ISSUE:
SPORTSMANSHIP AT ITS BEST
Well, it isn’t over yet but it is very, very close. Through April 19, the Texas Valley Citrus Committee reports a total of 9.06 million cartons of all citrus utilized fresh, but also shows that about 10 percent of the estimated grapefruit crop remained along with about 40 percent of the estimated Valencia crop.
In relation to the averages for the last eight seasons, total shipments were barely behind the average, with grapefruit trailing about 120 thousand cartons and exports trailing about 188 thousand. Navels long since finished about 166 thousand cartons below the eight-year average. With those decreases, obviously earlys and Valencias had to be up to even out the total—the former by a whopping 420 thousand cartons and the latter already about 50 thousand ahead and still going.
There is little doubt that the total volume for this season will surpass the long term average for all citrus, as should grapefruit domestic but not grapefruit export. Indeed, the total fresh volume could possibly surpass last season’s high of 9.3 million cartons.
Because of some problems with regreened Valencias (and some that were never colored), I checked the literature and with colleagues in Florida about the nature of the issue. Some of the information came from Dr. Will Wardowski, Professor Emeritus, and a text he co-edited—Fresh Citrus Fruits, 2nd edition (available from Florida Science Source, Inc. at email@example.com).
What I learned from these sources and a quick review of literature is that regreened Valencias are virtually impossible to degree, possibly due to a higher content of chlorophyll b, which lowers the ratio of chlorophyll a to chlorophyll b (higher chlorophyll a:b ratios are easier to degreen). It is possible that chlorophyll b may be more tightly bound to proteins in the rind or that it is less subject to enzymatic breakdown than chlorophyll a.
The issue of regreened Valencias won’t just go away—it seems to always happen, just some seasons are worse than others. The apparent reasons are varied, but the environment is such an important factor—and growers cannot do much about that.
What can be done is to begin Valencia harvest earlier so as to finish the season before serious regreening occurs. The alternatives are to figure out a way to promote and sell regreened Valencias, or send them on to the juice plant, as there seems little likelihood that local packers will invest in the automatic color sorting equipment that can separate out the worst of the regreened fruits.
Believe it or not, the last weekend of April brought a pretty good light show to the Valley, along with variable amounts of rainfall. Those areas with an inch or less didn’t seem to notice, as the ground dried out again by month’s end. Maybe the break in the weather is an omen of more rain to come in May…
Sportsmanship at Its Best—
This has nothing whatsoever to do with citrus, but it was an exhibition of such tremendous sportsmanship and unselfishness that I want to pass it along in case you missed it. The story was written by Joseph B. Frazier for the Associated Press and it ran in the Valley Morning Star yesterday (May 1).
In Portland, Oregon the other day, the women’s softball team from Western Oregon University was hosting Central Washington University in a playoff game of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference—the loser to go home, the winner to advance.
A senior on the Western Oregon team, Sara Tucholsky, knocked a homerun over center field with two runners aboard (her first ever homer, by the way). On rounding first, she missed the bag, turned back to tag it but collapsed with a knee injury, forcing her to crawl back to the base.
She could get no help from her teammates, as she would have been called out. If her team put in a pinch runner, the pinch runner would be held to first base and the homerun would have been ruled a single (which may or may not have scored the two on-board runners).
Central Washington’s first baseman, Mallory Holtman (the conference’s career leader in homeruns), asked the umpire if she and her teammates could help Miss Tucholsky. The ump indicated that there was no rule against it, so Miss Holtman and Central Washington’s shortstop, Liz Wallace, picked up Miss Tucholsky and carried her around the bases, lowering her just enough at each base that she could tag it with her uninjured left foot.
This tremendous display of sportsmanship by Miss Holtman and Miss Wallace contributed to their team’s elimination from the playoffs. Neither young lady was thinking about the playoff spot and did not consider their gesture to be something that other athletes would not do.
It just doesn’t get any better than that. My hat’s off to these young ladies, to their team, coaches and university, and to the parents who instilled such high values in their daughters.
Back to citrus, the coming crop is in its final fruit drop period, which should be over by May 20-25. Fruit remaining ontree after that should be there for harvest. Fruit set seems to be a little variable, depending on variety and grove; but young fruit are still small and very green, and it is often very difficult to see them for all the new growth.
When final drop is over, so too will be cell division within the fruit. Cell division determines the overall number of cells in the fruit and, thus, establishes the basis for final fruit size. If you ever wondered why large grapefruit are large, there’s the major reason—large grapefruit experienced more cell division during their formative stages.
Why those and not some other fruit or even all the fruit? Well, you might compare it to pecking order—within each cluster and on each fruiting branch, some fruit are in a better position physiologically to receive what they need, so they become larger. Fruit in other positions get what’s left over, which is usually not enough for them to become quite as large.
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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