VOL. 22, NO. 12
IN THIS ISSUE:
HLB TASK FORCE
IN THE WORKS
Although the season started a bit later than normal and was slow gaining momentum, the latest data from TVCC show that harvest and shipping are quickly approaching year-to-date levels of the last season. While export and domestic shipments of grapefruit year-to-date are down about 13 percent from last season, navels are up 19 percent while earlies are running about dead even.
The external quality of grapefruit is a only a bit lower, as indicated by the fact that the percentage of harvested fruit that has been diverted to processing is up slightly (about 40 percent as opposed to last season’s 37 percent). The external quality of oranges is somewhat better than expected, as processed oranges are at 19 percent of the total harvest as compared to 27 percent at this time last season.
If you are curious, the 10-year average proportion of the total grapefruit crop that was processed was 43 percent, while processed oranges averaged about 39 percent of the total harvest. As we all know, grapefruit packouts during the pre-Christmas period normally are the highest of the season, as external quality declines after the New Year and the later harvests include more undersized fruit and sometimes oversized (sheepnosed) grapefruit.
HLB Task Force—
Todd Staples, Commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture, recently named an HLB Task Force to develop management and reaction strategies for the Asian citrus psyllid and Asian citrus greening (HLB). This group includes a number of growers and industry personnel, as well as several key people with the state and federal Departments of Agriculture, the Texas A&M University System and a couple of people involved with the California psyllid control effort and the Florida psyllid and HLB effort.
To date, the Task Force has met twice via teleconference to commence the planning process and assign responsibilities for various facets of the program. When the dust settles, the semi-final results will be reviewed and discussed in a face-to-face meeting of the Task Force in early January. As soon after that conference as important changes can be incorporated into the document, it will be submitted to the feds as our proposed plan to deal with psyllids today and with both psyllids and greening in the event that greening is confirmed in the state.
The number of Texas counties with confirmed psyllids continues to increase with every survey effort, now at 56 counties of some 100 plus where citrus is present. However, no greening has been found.
One of the issues that the Task Force and growers must reconcile is that of a proposed Valley-wide psyllid control effort. Some are of the opinion that growers should be able to apply psyllid controls to their orchards in a rather short time frame, while growers face the reality that it may take a month to get through all the grove acres that they own and/or manage—and there is always the concern about the cost to do psyllid control.
No doubt, there are several issues to be worked out yet and the end result will not necessarily be entirely acceptable to everybody—regulatory, grower, homeowner. Still, we have to develop a reasonable plan of attack before greening is detected in the state, as to wait until the disease is confirmed will be too late to move forward proactively.
Too, Texas growers are concerned that it is somewhat pointless for them to try to control psyllids in orchards unless homeowners are also on board to control psyllids in their dooryard trees. In other words, it’s looking like there has to be an area-wide effort at psyllid control in the Valley. Obviously, the control of psyllids is critical to the prevention of greening—no psyllids, no greening.
It is beginning to look like the industry might need a program somewhat similar to the cotton boll weevil eradication effort in order to try to control psyllids across the Valley. Even then, what to do about the presence of psyllids across the river? After all, these insects are quite capable of flying several miles, so reinfestation is almost a given.
In the Works--
You have undoubtedly heard that the , with Citrus Center has a redder-than-Rio grapefruit that Dr. Louzada discovered as a limb sport on a Rio tree at the South Research Farm here in Weslaco. It is supposed to mature earlier than Rio with good flavor in September. It is under propagation and further study, so it's not going to be available anytime soon.
Also, a local resident brought me one fruit from his young Kara Kara navel that had a chimera that extended over slightly more than half the fruit. The peel was very intensely red and red-blushed. Inside, the pulp in the chimera was significantly redder than that of Kara Kara. As a guide, the Kara Kara pulp color is somewhat comparable to Ruby Red, while the color of the chimera pulp is akin to that of Henderson or Ray grapefruit.
There were no viable seed in the chimera, but Dr. Louzada has undertaken tissue culture to try to get plants from it. Meanwhile, the source limb has been marked and we are following it along in hopes of being able to obtain buds from the chimeral side of the twig itself. Interestingly, there was a deep red chimera on another fruit on the opposite side of the tree, but it was no more than a thin sliver in width.
Dry weather has returned, along with some cool fronts that have made the last couple of weeks rather pleasant. Irrigation has been ongoing even in the previously saturated groves in Cameron County.
The shorter days and cooler temperatures have hastened natural degreening. The fruit is looking really pretty against the dark green background of the leaves. Indeed, I can’t recall seeing such intense color as I’ve noted this season. Even the few tangerines in landscapes around the Valley are bright reddish orange.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!
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
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