The Florida citrus season is set to start early October, and for IMG Citrus, the projections for this coming season are looking good. Sydney Allison, IMG Citrus Director of Sales, shares: “The harvest has started now, and we are on track to begin packing October 5th, so overall this season’s timing has been good and about a week ahead of last season for IMG.”
Bigger sizes and higher volumes
IMG Citrus is a grower of fresh citrus in Florida, with over 10,000 acres of grapefruit, navel oranges, juice oranges, tangerines, and easy-peel mandarins. As the Florida citrus industry continues to consolidate, IMG Citrus continues to invest in groves, being particularly known for their market share for Florida grapefruit. The overall grapefruit crop looks very encouraging, Allison shares, saying: “Right now, our sizes are looking bigger and better than last year, and the fruit about one half to full size ahead of what we were seeing in the previous season at this time. The brix and acid of the fruit are also ahead of last season, which is very encouraging and predicts a great taste for the fruit.”
Florida has been getting consistent rain this summer, which has assisted in creating good growing conditions for the citrus crop. “Our production team has done a great job in keeping the external quality clean and healthy,” Allison says. “We are anticipating higher pack-outs and utilization compared to last year’s crop.”
Right: Sydney Allison.
IMG grows both red and white grapefruit, and last year the company started introducing the white grapefruit into the US market with promotable volumes. ”We had positive reactions on the domestic market whites where consumers are re-discovering this superior tasting fruit and we are excited to see this program continue to grow in the coming season,” Allison says.
Growing in a hurricane-prone region
As a grower in Florida, IMG is well acquainted with the climate patterns of the region and has seen their share of hurricanes come through the area.
The last major hurricane to affect the Florida citrus industry was Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The effects of a hurricane are typically felt for 2 years. Volumes tend to decline the first year due to maturing fruit that dropped as a result of hurricane-force winds. The second-year can bring smaller crops in size and volume due to stress incurred by the trees from excess water or winds.
“Our trees have recovered from Hurricane Irma. In fact, last year our company and the industry witnessed an increase in shipments which we hadn't seen in many years,” says IMG’s CFO Melanie Ressler.
Florida’s hurricane season ends November 30, and while there have already been numerous hurricanes that have made landfall in the United States, the IMG Citrus orchards have not been impacted. “We are approaching the end of hurricane season, and are fortunate to not have had a major storm in our growing regions this year,” says Ressler. “We are excited to enter the Florida citrus season with great volumes and great taste.”