US(FL): Citrus harvests delayed by weather

With Florida citrus growers already struggling with long-term greening issues, heavy cloud cover and moisture levels have complicated the 2015 season.

“It’s been raining a lot this season, and it’s affected our harvesting more than anything else,” says Jimmy Johnson of Premier Citrus Packers. Johnson’s company grows both grapefruit and oranges, and has had to delay crop harvest due to the lack of sunlight this season. 

“With cloud cover you can’t harvest,” says Johnson, explaining that dry, sunlight-rich conditions are needed to avoid crop damage when picking grapefruit and oranges. Without those conditions, oil cells in citrus peels do not have sufficient pressure for harvesting, which causes them to rupture when picked. Johnson says this problem is most noticeable in navel oranges, but affects all of Premier’s products.

Yields on oranges and grapefruit are both down this year over last, though Johnson says that with greening and moisture issues, it is tough to pinpoint exactly what’s causing the drop off this season. He mentions, however, that this continues a five-year downturn caused largely by pervasive greening issues. 

Despite issues this season, Johnson says that FOB prices and eating quality have been strong through 2015, and adds that growers have high hopes for new anti-greening treatments. “We are optimistic for the future of citrus in this area.”
For more information:
Jimmy Johnson
Premier Citrus Packers
Tel: +1 (772) 409-7036

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