The Texas citrus season has gotten off to a nice start, according to growers and shippers.
“We’re in our third week now, and everything seems set to have a really nice season out of Texas,” said Trent Bishop, vice president of sales of Lone Star Citrus Growers, Mission, Texas.
Last year, the season had an unusually late start, causing growers to miss out on nearly a month of their typical season.
“We managed to get into market three weeks earlier than last year to capture at least our fair share of the market,” Bishop said.
Last year, Texas lost some of the market to Florida because they were so late into the market.
“This year, we’re just about on track for normal,” Bishop said.
“We’ve just gotten started, but things are looking better each week,” said Alex Flores, vice president, Mex Flores Produce, Houston. “Quality and flavor are getting better.”
“The exterior color of the early grapefruit this season is outstanding with a great blush,” said marketing director Paula Fouchek.
The estimate on grapefruit volume is up slightly for this year, according to Ray Prewitt, president of Texas Citrus Mutual, Mission, Texas.
“The figures are up some,” he said.
The dry conditions don’t seem to have had much affect on the crop, and Texas had plenty of irrigation water for the season.
“One of the bigger challenges has been the dry weather, but we’re still doing fine on irrigation water, though we might be concerned about that situation down the road if we don’t get more natural rainfall,” Prewitt said.
Still, most expect this season to be about average.
The Edinburg Citrus Association, Edinburg, Texas says the orange and grapefruit crops should balance out.
“ECA has continued to irrigate and is predicting a good crop — up somewhat in grapefruit with just a slight reduction in oranges,” Fouchek said.
As the season starts to pick up, prices should go down.
“Pricing is coming down now that we are starting with more volume,” Flores said.
Bishop said prices were fairly high at the beginning of the season.
“We started well above what is considered normal because when we got started, there was a very rare vacuum. California had wrapped up about six weeks before we could get going, so the gap led to a much larger market,” he said.
The season should work out to have promotional volume around the middle of November, according to Flores, and prices are expected to reflect those larger volumes.
Bishop also mentioned that prices are slowly returning to the historical average.
“It won’t be too much longer before we are normal,” he said.
Fruit sizes could be down slightly this year due to the drier weather, but that shouldn’t affect the overall quality of the product.
“There was a lack of rainfall so fruit is a little small, but the quality looks excellent,” Prewitt said.
“Sizing is a little smaller for grapefruits than I’d forecasted for the season, but we’re still very impressed with what we’ve seen here so far,” he said.