|IN THIS ISSUE:
Through mid-November, the total fresh market utilization of Texas fresh citrus is running at about 76 percent of the volume at the same time last season. The biggest factor has been in grapefruit even though export shipments are up by 81 percent, domestic shipments are only at 47 percent of last year's volume. Early oranges are up a whopping 41 percent and navel oranges are up 26 percent.
Exterior quality, as judged by processed fruit volume, is not as good as last season-grapefruit diverted to processing is down to 68 percent of last season, but one must remember that with only about 60 percent as much grapefruit harvested to date, more of the fruit is going to juice. The orange volume eliminated to processing is nearly quadruple that of a year ago, while the volume harvested is up about 60 percent.
The major factors in increased eliminations appear to be rust mite damage and wind scar, with some occurrence of sheepnosing (grapefruit) and small size (oranges). Internal quality is pretty good for the time of year, based on the fruit I have been eating straight from the tree.
Prices have dropped back a little, but are still quite good for growers. Fancy Rio Stars are running about $9.00 for 56-s to $24.00 for 27's. Texas earlys are in the $7.00 to $10.00 range, while navels are running $9.00 to $13.00. Both the Sun Ridge and Indian River districts of Florida are showing too few shipments to establish a market price on grapefruit, though the Gulf district is quoting $8.00-10.00 on smaller sizes and $18.00-22.00 on the larger sizes.
The lake levels continue to show improvement with nearly every report. The U.S. share is right at 90 percent of conservation level, while Mexico's volume is right at 60 percent. Given those numbers, water availability for next season's irrigation requirements and municipal and industrial use should not be a concern on either side of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Recreational interests at both reservoirs should be pleased with lake levels, though I don't know but what the increased water volume may have scattered the fish pretty widely.
That being the case, I am reminded of a warning drilled into my head by my grandmother when I was about knee high to nothing when it looks like everything is going well, look out something unexpected may be coming up on your blind side. Her idea was that you always have to remember the Boy Scout Motto-Be Prepared!
CITRUS CANKER WOES-
The Florida citrus industry has been reporting additional citrus canker finds since the last of the hurricanes that hit that state this summer. Citrus canker is readily moved around during windy, rainy weather, and one would certainly have to agree that the Florida industry has had more than its share of windy, rainy weather. Given those storms, the new finds were not unexpected. Hopefully, the industry can stay on top of the quarantine and eradication effort before the disease becomes much more widely dispersed.
Australia has also been having major problems with citrus canker up in Queensland. Additional detections of the disease have caused considerable controversy among citrus interests Down Under.
To borrow a saying from the dirt farmers of my youth, "the corn is not in the crib yet", which is to say that citrus growers have grown and matured another crop, but it will still be months before harvest is expected to finish. As a rule, pests just aren?t very active in the winter months, so our guard usually lowers. Still, the experience we had several years ago in which citrus rust mites became very active (and damaging) during the winter months is fresh enough that most growers will keep an eye open occasionally.
Irrigations for the year should be pretty well completed by now. In most cases, a final flood irrigation near the end of November is adequate to carry the trees until preparations for the next bloom and flush commence. Micro-sprayer and drip irrigations, however, may be necessary occasionally throughout the winter, depending upon any rainfall that might occur.
Conditions for flower induction for next season include temperatures below about 68 degrees starting usually in November. With the exception of a couple of cool fronts, there weren't a whole lot of hours in November that were most favorable for flower induction but there's plenty of time still. One situation that we don't like to see is a period of temperatures that are conducive for flower induction followed by an unseasonable warm-up. When that happens, multiple blooms usually result, which is not the most desirable bloom situation.
The Florida Agricultural Statistics Service and USDA did reassess the crop estimate for Florida citrus based on concerns that the initial October forecast might not adequately account for further fruit droppage or failure to size normally. However, the November update and reassessment resulted in no change to the October estimate.
CITRUS VINE CONTROL-
After two plus years of working on this problem, I must admit that I
still do not have many answers. Old man's beard and morningglory can
be pretty well controlled (after initial pulling) with tank mixes of
Roundup, Hyvar X and Solicam. MSMA in the mix burns them back, but it
is not systemic. Though it is not labeled in Texas, 2,4-D works very
well, and I have not noted any phytotoxicity from its use.
Possum grape control is still in the future. I have hit it (after hand pulling and a couple of weeks for regrowth) with maximum rates of various combinations of Roundup, Hyvar X, MSMA and 2,4-D, but the best I can claim is that I made it sick. Still, one supposes that if you can make it sick, repeated treatment over a couple of seasons just might take it down all the way. I suspect that the new species of Cissus that Vic French encountered will be just as difficult to control.
In any case, I will continue working with these materials and hope for the best, since nothing else (that is labeled) has done as well. There may be some experimental products in the pipeline that will do a better job, but we'll have to wait and see.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
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