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US (FL): Grapefruit season keeps pace

With the help of good weather, this year's Florida grapefruit season is on track to match production seen in the last few years. Though ample rains early in the season have caused sugar levels to dip slightly, growers expect brix levels to rebound.

“The season started out normal, on a normal schedule,” said Doug Bournique, executive vice president of the Indian River Citrus League. “We'd been off-schedule for several years because of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, so it took the trees a while to rebound.” But good weather has facilitated the rebound, and production, along with the harvest schedule, is back to normal.

U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates for the 2012-2013 season put production at 20.3 million boxes, which is slightly more than production for the state for the past two years and identical to state production for the 2009-2010 season, and Bournique believes that, with no significant weather events, the state's growers should hit USDA estimates.

“So far, all the fruit arrivals looks good,” he said. “It's not a small crop and it's not a huge crop; it looks good, it eats good and it's in good shape.” Though Bournique expects fruit quality to be good this year, he did note that brix levels were currently slightly down. He attributed that to abundant rain in October.

“Our brix levels for red grapefruit were at 10.18 at this time last season, and right now they're at 10.16, so we're very close to last season,” he said. “But fruit should dry out now, and though we're seeing a temporary drop, sugar levels should come back up soon.”

Price and demand are also similar to previous years, and shipment levels are almost identical to those recorded at this time last year. Such regularity is good for the state's growers, who had to contend with much more adverse conditions just a few years ago.

“We'd had problems with drought the past seven or eight years, ever since the hurricanes in 2004 and 2005,” he said. “But this is the first year with ample rains; the trees are rebounding, so it's going to be an average season.”

For more information:
Doug Bournique
Indian River Citrus League
+1 772 562 2728

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