The volume of citrus out of South Texas is somewhat down this season.
“Supplies are decent but lower than last year due to Hurricane Hanna,” says Mariam El-Agha with Global Harvest based in Texas. (Hanna hit late August into early September.) “Some fields saw 20-30 percent crop losses due to the storm so supply isn’t as abundant as it would have been if the area was spared from the storm.” She does note that while it’s still early in the season for citrus from the Rio Grande Valley (where the majority of Texas citrus is grown), some fields have started harvesting while others haven’t. “We should start seeing more lemons and limes in early November and more oranges and grapefruit mid to end of the month. Heavy rainfalls in south Texas caused limited supply just recently for the fields that had already started harvesting,” she adds.
In terms of the sizing and quality, El-Agha says they have seen larger-sized fruit which is credited to Hanna. “Since so much fruit was knocked off, the fruit that remained didn’t have to compete with as many other fruits for nutrients and therefore was able to grow a pretty healthy size,” she says. “Plus, the rain at the time of Hanna provided much moisture.”
Multiple competing regions
At the same time competing with Texas on citrus are other domestic regions including California, Florida and Arizona and outside of the U.S., Mexico. “But for the export market, there's also much competition from Egypt, South Africa and Turkey. Many international customers opt for fruit coming from those places due to the fact that those markets are closer for many and often cheaper,” says El-Agha.
As for demand for Texas citrus, demand is highest from those within the state. “I think this plays into “buying local” which is great,” says El-Agha, adding that pricing is similar to last year at this time. That said, she notes that most consumers, especially international buyers, are more concerned with the quality of fruit that the growing region.
However, with winter just around the corner, El-Agha says there’ll likely be an increase in the consumption of citrus to boost the intake of Vitamin C. “This year, we not only have the flu, but COVID19 has had people scrambling to find ways to prevent them from getting sick. There’s no doubt that many consumers will be looking towards citrus as a way to strengthen their immunity,” she says.
Looking ahead, El-Agha says as more fields are harvested in the coming weeks and into November, the expectation is that higher volumes will come on.