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Beetles blight Florida kumquat production

Florida kumquat growers are in damage control mode this season, as the region’s kumquat trees have been devastated by pests.

“This year Florida has a problem with production due to a citrus root beetle [the diaprepis root weevil] that was eating roots of trees,” says Maria Gutierrez of Terra Fresh Foods. Gutierrez says that due to the infestation, production numbers have plummeted by 75% from 2014. Typically, Florida kumquat supplies last through winter, but with the nosedive in production, Gutierrez expects that Terra Fresh’s supplies will only last until the end of December.

Sizing, quality, time to market all affected
Gutierrez reports that crop sizing and quality have also been negatively affected, further harming suppliers’ businesses. “The shelf life of the product is a lot less than last year. That means orders have been smaller to keep a fast rotation of the product".

This year’s crop also suffered a significant delay in reaching market, causing many suppliers to be without a crop at Thanksgiving, a peak period for kumquat demand in the US. Knowing this year’s crop would be severely impacted, Terra Fresh made the innovative move to outsource Kumquats from other areas. As a result, Terra Fresh was one of few US suppliers with domestic kumquat available in late November.

Gutierrez says that Terra Fresh has looked into possible import channels for after December, but has not found a suitable supplier. “[Kumquat] is so new on an import level in the US market that not a lot of countries are allowed to export kumquats into the US.”

Focus on 2016
As with many other Florida kumquat growers, Terra Fresh has re-focused with an eye on the 2016 season. “We’re mainly just focused for next year,” says Gutierrez.

“We’re planning to work closely with the growers and plant new trees,” she elaborates. “The ones we have are too sick and weak to produce next year.”

For more information:
Maria Gutierrez
Terra Fresh Foods, Inc.
Tel: +1 (305) 363-2112

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