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US (TX): Better appearance, production for grapefruit

Compared to last year, the current Texas grapefruit season promises bigger volumes as well as fruit that has less cosmetic deficiencies. Recent rains have hit some growing regions throughout the state, but a relatively dry season could mean smaller sizes.

“The quality of grapefruit has improved some over last year – it's really good,” said President of the Texas Citrus Mutual, Ray Prewett. He said that, specifically, the external quality of fruit this year has improved due to less wind-scarring. 

“Like last year, internal quality is also good,” added Prewett. “But the biggest change has been an improvement in the external appearance.” He noted that the weather, in addtion to the level of pest activity, is the main factor that determines the appearance of fruit. Although there is always wind scarring on some fruit, this year's crop has been roughed up less simply because the weather has been easier on the fruit.

“We just had less winds and fewer blemishes form pests that we had to deal with,” said Prewett. This year's volume is also expected to be better, but that might have more to do with a dip in production last year than a significant increase this year over normal years.

“We had some adverse weather that caused last year's crop to be down some, so we're now up to normal volume,” said Prewett. Last year's production was around 9.6 million cartons, noted Prewett, so this year's esimate of 10.5 million cartons is a nice rebound from last year's dip. Along with better weather leading to increases in production, Prewett also noted that production figures are likely higher because of less fruit discarded due to cosmetic blemishes.

“We're a fresh-oriented industry,” he explained. “We don't do as much on the juice market, so the better the quality of our fresh product, the better returns to growers. The yield was down last year because quality was down, so the improvement in quality means we're shipping more fresh product.”

The only setback this season has been smaller sizing due to dry conditions, though recent moisture has helped in that department.

“We did get some rain, and that should help with an increase in the size of fruit,” said Prewett. “This season has been on the dry side, though, so fruit size has been the one thing that hasn't been as good.” But demand has been good, and that's meant brisk movement.

“Shipments for fresh citrus were at about 1.3 million cartons at this time last year,” said Prewett. “Now, we're at 1.4 million cartons shipped, so movement is up and demand is up.”

The current Texas grapefruit season, which began in October, is expected to continue through April of next year.

For more information:
Ray Prewett
Texas Citrus Mutual
+1 956 584 1772