Feek said early season prices were higher than normal, at $23-26 for the larger fruit, but said prices declined in mid-October to $16-18.
He said the lower prices made for better retail promotions and in late October grapefruit was beginning to become more promotable.
“What has happened is Texas is starting,” Feek said. “Texas has a following. Once the pipeline gets full, demand decreases for a while. The market has allowed the fruit to become more promotable. We will get ads. Once the ads start, the fruit will start moving again.”
In mid-November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported these prices for 4/5 bushel cartons of U.S. No. 1 Florida red grapefruit in Boston: $22 for 27s; $19 for 32s; $16-17 for 36s; $14 for 40s; and $12 for 48s and 56s.
Last year in early November, the USDA reported those same cartons of Florida red grapefruit in Chicago selling for $18-18.50 for 27s; $15-16 for 32s and 36s; $13-15 for 40s; and $12 for 56s.
Feek said he expects growers to harvest about a month longer than they have in recent seasons.
Last year, harvesting ended by late March, considerably earlier than usual.
This year, Feek said growers should run through mid-May.
In past years, the deal finished April 1-15, Feek said.
Uncle Matt’s Organic Inc., Clermont, planned to begin its harvesting of its reds, ruby reds and darker reds on time in mid-November, said Matt McLean, chief executive officer and founder.
“We surprisingly have a little bigger size this early, which is nice,” he said in late October. “We will be able to have more bulk fruit to go in the bags.”
McLean said adequate rainfall helped produce better sizes early in the deal and said quality is matching last year’s.