The Texas citrus season has been underway since September, after enjoying an on-time start, and the movement of volumes this year has been ahead of last year in all categories. Dale Murden from Texas Citrus Mutual shares: “Grapefruit is ahead of last season by 108,000 cartons, while oranges are ahead of last season by almost 65,000 cartons.”
Damage from Hurricane Hanna less than originally expected
On July 25th, Hurricane Hanna hit Texas as a strong Category 1 storm and caused some damage to the citrus orchards in the state. Fortunately, the originally forecasted damage has turned out to be much lower. “The hurricane dumped 11-20 inches of rain in various locations of the industry here. Early damage reports indicated a 30% loss, but we now estimate we are down overall between 10-15%,” Murden shares. “We haven’t had any significant rainfall here since September 18th and the quality of this season’s fruit has been good. Cooler temperatures have also helped to increase the fruit’s brix ratios, so the harvest is off to a great start,” he adds.
As the good movement of Texas citrus volumes shows, the market and demand this season are high. “The market and demand have been excellent, and prices are strong,” Murden says. With the pandemic, consumers are looking for items to strengthen their immune systems and overall health and citrus is turned to for doing so. “Just half of a medium-sized Texas grapefruit contains 100% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C. I think, if anything, the pandemic has shined a light on the value of fresh fruits,” Murden adds.
While the pandemic has highlighted the value of fresh fruits, it has also required some additional safety measures within the orchards. “The health and safety of all is a top priority for our industry. All steps and guidelines are taken and followed to ensure as safe a work environment as we can make it. Distancing in all phases of operations are employed as well as the use of personal protective equipment and the use of sanitizers and wash stations,” Murden explains.
Texas currently grows mainly grapefruit and oranges, as well as a small amount of other citrus varieties. “Approximately 63% of our current acreage is planted to our Texas Rio Red Grapefruit and 36% of our planted industry is in various orange varieties. The remaining 1% is planted to limes, lemons and tangerines,” Murden shares. Texas distributed their products nationwide, as well as exporting to Canada and to Europe. “Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri and Canada are consistently in our top 10 markets, to name a few, and about 3-4% of the grapefruit crop is exported to Europe and other destinations annually, though the new EU tariff, which also affect fresh grapefruit, will likely greatly diminish exports there this season,” he concludes.
For more information:
Texas Citrus Mutual
Tel: +1 (956) 584-1772