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Cool Texas winter ensures sweet organic grapefruit season

The winter has been kind to organic grapefruit growers in Texas. The cool, sometimes cold, conditions, have been just enough to ensure the grapefruit achieve a good level of sweetness, juice and color, while at the same time, not damaging the fruit. 

"We had a very unique winter," exclaimed Russon Holbrook of South Tex Organics. "It snowed twice this year, which is extremely rare. However, we did not have any freeze events that caused damage to the citrus as it did to some other crops in the area. The cold was also sporadic, depending on what part of the valley you were located."

"Overall growing conditions have been great," Holbrook continued. "The citrus enjoyed a nice, cool winter which helped to mature the fruit well and break color. The colder nights signaled the trees into a moderate dormancy, providing more nutrition to the fruit. As a result, we are seeing excellent quality, with good juice content as well as a very favorable BRIX to acid ratio."

Market watching major retailers
The market for organic grapefruit has been strong, despite retailers being more conservative. Growers are enjoying good pricing at the moment, however they are going to be watching how it develops in the future with the recent shifts on the retail scene. 

"The market has been great, with organic grapefruit improving its position each year," Holbrook noted. "This despite some retailers digging their heels in when it comes to pricing. They don't want too much parity between conventional and organic. We are also watching closely as to how Amazon will direct the newly-acquired Wholefoods, who have traditionally been a strong buyer of organic produce. The way management of this is implemented, including for such areas as the home delivery market, may have a bearing on prices moving forward."

Presently, demand for Texas organic grapefruit is good, with produce from other regions having an effect. "Pricing is close to the average for this time of year and demand is good," Holbrook added. "Florida didn't produce much organic volume this season for fresh pack sales. We are starting to see more organic grapefruit coming out of Mexico. The Mexican product is closer to the quality of the Texas fruit, more so than California for example."

Rio Star most widely grown
South Tex Organics grow two main varieties of organic grapefruit - the Rio Star and the Ruby Red. The growing seasons are the same for both, extending from fall until spring. "We commence harvest at the tail end of October and wrap it up by late March, early April," Holbrook said. "Rio Star is the primary variety we grow. We also grow the Ruby Red, which is an heirloom variety and the one that put Texas grapefruit on the map."

Holbrook said the company were also the first to introduce standardized packaging for organic grapefruit. "Our company began implementing standardized packaging back in the 80s," he said. "Since then, there has been more consistency in sizes and grades in organic grapefruit packaging throughout the industry."

For more information:
Russon Holbrook
South Tex Organics
Tel: +1 (956) 585-1040

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