OCTOBER, 2009       

VOL. 23, NO. 10                                                                             





Grapefruit Chemical Use Survey—

Representatives from NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service) will be contacting growers over the next couple of weeks to conduct a chemical use survey on grapefruit.  According to Doug Rundle, heading the project, there will be 150 total samples required to get an accurate picture of the chemical use patterns on Texas grapefruit. 

The surveys will be conducted in person, so you have only to answer the questions. 
While the survey form is 16 pages, it shouldn’t take an hour for a grower to supply all the answers—if you have your information at hand.  Essentially, they will ask for fertilizer use (and analysis), and all chemical use—starting with your first spray or application of the calendar year.   Here, you won’t have to worry about the amount of active ingredient per acre, only the product name, amount used per acre per application and the total amount applied to the grove during one application.

If you are selected for the survey, why is it important that you participate?  There are several reasons, the most pertinent of which is that EPA must use the NASS chemical use data for pesticide use in their periodic reviews of tolerance levels at product re-registration—so if the data isn’t there from NASS, EPA can assume maximum label rates and maximum number of applications.  The data are also important for the Food Quality Protection Act, the Food and Drug Administration, and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, to assure the quality and safety of U.S. food products, both at home and abroad.

Finally, NASS has arranged with Texas Department of Agriculture to provide one CEU for pesticide licensing.

Melanose Survey—

Dr. Mani Skaria at the Citrus Center is embarking on a project involving the melanose situation in area groves.  In order to determine which direction his work should take, he has developed an online survey.  The more growers who respond by taking the survey, the better the information will be to direct his melanose control efforts. 
The link is not available to me at the moment, so I suggest you email Dr. Skaria directly at mskaria@ag.tamu.edu .

Texas Greening Website—

In the last couple of weeks, we learned that this work is about ready to go online.  Final touches were added to the design, responsibilities for the information for the various sections were assigned and those who have the responsibility are busy trying to get the text and images to the designer.  I think the deadline was supposed to be tomorrow to provide the needed information, but I suspect that will not happen for most of us—I know I won’t get mine done until probably next week.

Nonetheless, at least you know that we are making progress and the site should be up soon. 

Crop Estimate—

The USDA-NASS official estimate of the coming season’s citrus crop volume will be released on Friday, October 9.  Live radio broadcasts in Florida will commence at 8:29 am EDT.  Since that’s a bit out of range for us, there will be an audio stream of the information starting about 7:20 local time at www.southeastagnet.com

As usual, nobody has a clue as to what the numbers will be, but the various estimates and rumors put the Florida orange crop down substantially (mid 140s to mid 150s million boxes), while the rumor mill seems fixed on about 20 million boxes of grapefruit—a slight decrease from last season.

For Texas, who knows?  Without the reduction due to Hurricane Dolly, last year should have been an “up” year and this should have been a “down” year.  That there was a reduction in expected volume caused some to speculate that this crop would come in somewhat higher overall.  However, early indications are that the extended drought and triple-digit temperatures throughout the summer have negatively impacted both set and sizing.

Current Situation--

Substantial rains in September relieved the drought temporarily and brought generally lower temperatures, with most days being in the 90s, a few still in the 100s and even fewer in the 60s to 80s (yeah, we did have a cold front!).  The effects of shorter days and cooler temperatures should soon be manifest by increases in fruit size. 

There were rumors that somebody was going to open in September, but such did not occur.  Hopes to open the first of October have been pretty much quashed due to the fact that most samples are not passing maturity tests yet.  Navels seem to be mature (i.e., they taste okay), but they are apparently lacking in size and juice content.  Marrs are reportedly lacking in juice content, maturity and size—as are grapefruit.  The current best guess is that the commencement of significant harvest is still one to two weeks out.

Speaking of the rain, it started around Labor Day—but was widely dispersed and not consistent.  However, it kept on coming over the next couple of weeks so that apparently everybody got substantial total rainfall.  Amounts I have heard range from only about six inches to over 10 inches. 

Is the drought over?  Probably not, as 10 inches in September plus another couple back at Memorial Day adds up to about half the long term annual average for the Valley.  Though some rains are possible through the end of the year, historical rainfall during this period has not commonly amounted to half the yearly total.

Two associated problems with so much rain after so long with so little is that mosquitoes have returned with a vengeance and roadsides and field rows have quickly grown up with whatever vegetation there was.  Of course, grove weeds have flourished as well.

Greening Movement—

No, this doesn’t refer to the popular effort to “Go Green”; rather it’s about the greening disease of citrus.  There has been no news regarding further discoveries of citrus greening in Mexico, but the caveat is that I usually don’t find out about new discoveries until up to a month or more after the fact. That it is apparently not spreading in Yucatan is pretty much inconceivable, but we can always hope… 

Meanwhile, there is some progress on the international scene, with officials from the US, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica and probably other countries in Central America talking together about how to control the psyllid vector and thus contain the disease.  Those of us in northern Mexico, Texas and California/Arizona citrus certainly hope the effort succeeds.

Canker Rule—

The public comment on the USDA’s proposed changes to the canker rule, which currently prohibits movement of fresh citrus from Florida to other citrus-producing states, ended in August.  Apparently, USDA received a lot of comments, as there has been no decision announced as yet.  Mike Sparks, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, has stated that the new rules should become effective by December first, if not sooner, based in part on his discussions with USDA officials in Washington.  Until that happens, the old rule obviously remains in effect.

HLB/Zebra Chip Conference—

Why on earth would anyone plan and schedule a meeting involving citrus and potatoes?  Actually, the two commodities have a couple of things in common—citrus greening is a Liberibacter spread by psyllids, zebra chip in potatoes is a Liberibacter spread by psyllids.

The HLB/ZC Conference is set for November 16-18 at the McAllen Convention Center.  The primary interaction between the two groups will be in a general session on Monday morning, as they will split into concurrent sessions for the rest of the conference.  These concurrent sessions each add up to about 16 hours, less break times.  More on the agenda and registration information can be obtained at http://agrilifevents.tamu.edu/events/details.cfm?Id=446 .


Professor & Extension Horticulturist
2401 East Highway 83
Weslaco TX 78596


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