VOL. 22, NO. 11
IN THIS ISSUE:
FLORIDA CROP ESTIMATE
TEXAS CROP ESTIMATE
Florida Crop Estimate—
The long awaited citrus crop estimates are in and the surprise is about like always—Florida growers think it’s too high. The orange estimate came in at 166 million boxes, of which 88 million is early, mids and navels, while the balance of 78 million boxes is Valencias. A Florida box contains 90 pounds of oranges.
In August, Elizabeth Steger forecast 150 million boxes of oranges. She upped her estimate in September to 155 million boxes based on the release of tree inventory data which reported more orange trees than she had used in her original estimate.
For grapefruit, the Florida crop is estimated at 23 million boxes, of which 7 million is whites, leaving a balance of 16 million boxes of colored grapefruit. A Florida box is 85 pounds of grapefruit.
Texas Crop Estimate—
The Texas red grapefruit crop is estimated at 5.3 million boxes (80 pounds), which is 212 thousand tons or 10.6 million carton equivalents. That’s a decrease of 13.1 percent from last season’s 12.2 million carton equivalents.
Texas oranges are forecast at 1.5 million boxes (85 pounds), which is 63.75 thousand tons or 3 million carton equivalents. That’s a decrease of 13.4 percent from last season. Earlies comprise 2.6 million carton equivalents—down 13.1 percent—while Valencias are only 0.4 million carton equivalents—down 14.5 percent from last season.
Some growers think that’s too low, as they don’t believe that Hurricane Dolly caused that much loss; few disagree. However, Texas grapefruit production has in an up-down cycle since the mid-90s (see the chart below). The only exception was in 2003 when production was down from the previous season when the cycle suggested that it should have been up.
With no significant change in acreage over the last several years, this season’s production should have been higher than it was last season—not lower. So, what would the crop have been without Hurricane Dolly? We’ll never know.
Shipping started a little later this season, with first harvests occurring in early October. There were oranges that passed maturity standards by mid-September, but many orchards were still a bit wet at that time. There have been a few problems with stem end rot, but I don’t know how extensive it is nor do I have an explanation for it. Navels are the main problem, but grapefruit is not exempt.
With the return of sunny skies through most of October, the fruit is finally beginning to increase in size like we expected it to do in August and September. With some 13 percent less production, fruit sizes should tend to be larger than normal. Too, drier conditions have enabled still-saturated soils to dry out a little, thereby improving root function.
Many growers were able to get spray equipment through the groves to avoid rust mite damage; some had to wait for so long that spotty rust mite damage has occurred. A couple even tried aerial application, though experience has not shown adequate rust mite control from fixed wing aircraft applications.
I have noted splitting of navels and a few Valencia oranges here and there, though nothing significant in either variety. Splitting normally occurs in late summer, and normally does not affect mature Valencias.
Along with the sunshine, there have been three or four cool fronts which have lowered temperatures. That combined with shortening days—we are almost half way between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, after all—has resulted in increased ratios and the beginnings of natural color break. The sooner color begins to break, the shorter the time required in degreening rooms.
Even the wettest of groves has dried out enough to allow resumption of normal grove activities. Indeed, many growers were irrigating in some areas.
There are increasing reports of dead or dying trees due to over-saturated soils—after all, few grove soils can quickly assimilate 36 to 48 inches of rainfall in a three-month period. Consequently, ground water tables have risen high enough to result in tree decline in a few locations.
I noted a special soil moisture situation that was initially puzzling. It seems that a sandier area of a sandy clay loam soil was wet/saturated long after the rest of the grove had dried enough for normal grove activities. Apparently, ground water was rising to the surface anywhere from a couple of hundred yards to several hundred yards from a so-called playa lake in a neighboring field—and the situation in the grove did not improve until the water in the neighboring field had finally disappeared.
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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