|IN THIS ISSUE:
NEW TEMIKŪ RULES
CITRUS FIESTA YOUTH SHOW
Through January 20, as reported by the Texas Valley Citrus Committee, Texas fresh grapefruit volume is down 13.4 percent from last season, while processed volume is up 9.6 percent. The total harvest figures are down 8.2 percent. Early orange volume is down 30.5 percent, but processed volume is up 223 percent, providing a total utilization that is up 9.9 percent. Navel orange volume is down 2.5 percent from that at the same time last season.
Some improvement in orange shipments is obvious, but there is every likelihood that early orange volume will not finish as high as last year's. That considerable early oranges are being harvested direct-to-juice is reflected in both the greatly increased processed volume and in the nearly 10 percent increase in total harvest.
Navel oranges represent the only bright spot, but that season is nearly over?and navel prices are off substantially from last season. Early orange prices are down also, despite the tremendous reduction in fresh volume. Supply and demand seem to be dysfunctional.
All in all, this season is not going to end any time soon-as the grapefruit crop and its slower market suggest that packinghouses may still be open into June. From the grower's perspective, it has not been a good year for returns-and it isn't over yet.
NEW TEMIKŪ RULES-
Any grower, grove care operator or custom applicator who plans to use TemikŪ for pest control this season should be aware of new regulations regarding its use. The most significant change is in the time of application; TemikŪ may only be applied to Texas citrus between January 1 and April 1.
Within this application window, it is recommended that TemikŪ application be timed just prior to or during the spring flush. For oranges, that could mean early February application, as navels and other oranges should start to push hard as soon as the current spell of cooler weather gives way to a week or so of warm weather. Grapefruit shouldn't be too far behind.
Since rainfall is scarce and not reliably predictable, growers are alerted that irrigation must follow application within 48 hours, unless a one-inch rain just happens to fall when you've just completed the application. Fat chance, that.
Aventis CropSciences USA LP received approval of the supplemental recommendations from Texas Department of Agriculture on January 18. The reasons behind these changes are the reported control problems in the past. The bottom line-put it out by April 1 or forget it and go to a spray program.
As of the end of January, the U.S. share of waters in the reservoirs is 42.95 percent of capacity. That's a little better than last year, but still a far cry from what is needed. Ergo, growers are once again faced with the prospect of insufficient water to last the season. Short water supplies have been with us for so long that it seems almost normal.
Given the above, I thought it would be especially informative to cite water-use data for citrus and cane during the last season-not as an attempt to engage in cross-commodity finger-pointing , but simply to try to correct the impression widely-held by the general public and by certain people within the agricultural community that citrus is a luxury water-use crop.
The average water use on a total of 910 acres of cane at Rio Farms in 2000 was 47.17 inches in 5.6 irrigations. By contrast, the average water use on 164 acres of citrus was 26.96 inches in 5.0 irrigations. The cane numbers would have been higher, except that about 380 acres skipped an irrigation because of heavy rain.
Nonetheless, it is obvious that citrus does not use nearly so much water as is commonly believed. That is a message I have been preaching for several years-but one that too many people simply don't accept. Maybe these data will help to convince them and maybe the citrus industry can stop appearing so apologetic for its water use. Citrus is NOT a major user of water, period.
Special thanks to Dale Murden and Andy Scott of Rio Farms for compiling and providing this information.
The cooler weather has continued to reduce the droppage of navels and early and midseason oranges, but it must surely give way to normal temperatures any day now. When warmer weather does arrive (and stay for a week or so), groves will respond by pushing the new growth and bloom. Considering the past winter, there should be a single heavy and concentrated bloom flush.
Fertilization, irrigation and weed control are among the major grove operations now getting underway. For those growers planning to use TemikŪ, be forewarned that you must do so before April 1.
Hedging and topping operations are also underway in groves that need to be cut back. In all varieties, one would like to delay such pruning until after harvest. For grapefruit, it may be possible to hedge after ring-picking without losing too much fruit-depending on the extent of hedging required.
CITRUS FIESTA YOUTH SHOW-
The Texas Citrus Fiesta occurred last week and, with it, the Youth Show. Some 54 youth entered 566 exhibits of citrus fruit. While the number of participants was near normal, the number of exhibits was down substantially. Grand Champion was awarded to Henderson grapefruit, while Reserve Champion was awarded to Jaffa orange.
In the Identification and Judging Contest, Senior Division, the Shary FFA team captured First Place, with Mission FFA being second. Kevin Doyle of Shary took High Individual honors. In the Junior Division, Mission FFA took First Place, with Darren Dudley of Mission being high Individual.
The Identification and Judging Contest is tough, to say the least. Identification involves 30 exhibits of the 50 listed varieties. Judging involves three classes: a four-group class of Rio Star, a four-group class of Ruby-Sweet and a four-group class of oranges.
Some growers have begun to utilize a more intensive nutritional program involving multiple foliar applications of various formulations of materials. This program is patterned after one in California which reportedly "costs a lot, but produces a lot". The Texas Citrus Producers Board combined two distinct proposals for funding into one and expanded that one's scope to begin testing this program in Texas. Because the expanded project necessitated that all of the awarded funds be diverted into the nutrition effort, the other project was relegated to other funding support.
The California work is interesting, especially since Carol Lovatt's lab has successfully increased flowering, fruit set, fruit size and yield in 'Washington' navel oranges that were already optimally well-nourished. This was accomplished with pre-bloom foliar applications of urea, the metabolism of which stimulated the biosynthesis of specific polyamines that are linked to increased flowering and fruiting. Her lab continues to look at other materials, both nutritional and growth regulatory, and at other times of application-with encouraging results to date.
Some Florida growers adopted the urea program, but suffered some serious problems of spray burn and phytotoxicity. Researchers there are working on the problem, and the word is that the results are "promising". Other researchers there are studying the use and timing of urea and other materials to increase flowering and fruiting or to decrease them in the "on-year" of heavily alternate bearing varieties. These early results are also promising, but the work is far from over.
The reason I mention the Florida grower experience and on-going research is to emphasize the need for new ideas to be tested under a wide variety of conditions. Neither Florida nor Texas experience the kind of low-temperature flower induction as occurs in California, nor can growers in either state reliably practice water stress for flower induction, as is true in California. Lovatt's work with navels refers to floral induction from both low temperature and water stress.
In summary, the California program is very interesting, the Florida research is quite promising and we have started testing. All such work takes time, but citrus growing is a long-time proposition anyway.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
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