Texas is facing crop losses of at least $300 million due to this week’s unusual winter storm. The damage could further strain food inflation, which is on the rise around the world due to hoarding of staple crops and supply chain disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dale Murden, both grapefruit grower and president of Texas Citrus Mutual, told Reuters the estimates account for losses this year and the potential for damaged trees to cut into next year’s crop: “The night it started freezing, I could cut my grapefruit open and you could see ice building up in the fruit. It was turning fruit on the trees into slush. When it starts to get 80 degrees next week, that’ll rot very rapidly and fall off onto the ground. Not only did I lose my remaining crop, I’m going to be severely limited on what I can produce next year.”
Texas ranks behind Florida and California in overall U.S. citrus production but is the no. 2 grapefruit producer. Forecasting firm AccuWeather said grapefruit prices alone are expected to jump 10% in the next month because of the loss of Texas crops. Grapefruit prices were already up 7.7 % as of Feb. 13, before the storm, from a year earlier.