VERO BEACH, Fla. — Continued lower volumes characterize the opening of Florida’s grapefruit season.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Oct. 9 season opening forecast, the world’s largest grapefruit producing state is expected to pack 19.8 million cartons of red and white grapefruit, down 8.7% from last season’s 21.7 million boxes.
Florida should pack 14 million cartons of colored or red grapefruit — the state’s largest variety — and 5.8 million boxes of white grapefruit.
That compares to the 15.1 million boxes of red grapefruit and 6.6 million boxes of white grapefruit the state shipped last season.
Grapefruit pickings normally start in early October, build volume through November and December, and peak in January and February when retail chains conduct large grapefruit promotions.
David Mixon, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Seald Sweet International, said he looks for a strong grapefruit crop.
“The quality on grapefruit will be outstanding this year,” he said in late October. “The internal qualities have good brix readings.”
Mixon said sizings have turned out to be smaller than the industry originally estimated earlier in the season.
Mixon said grapefruit was peaking on 40s, then 48s, 36s and 56s. He said the start of the deal is normally heavier toward the smaller sizes.
Pat Rodgers, president of Greene River Marketing Inc., said sizings should peak in the middle area of size and should offer a good run of sizes.
“The size structure of this year’s crop is currently medium to small,” he said in late October. “Although it makes it difficult to cover large sizes on the early market, it really makes the entire crop much more manageable to market. Whenever we are inundated with real large or real small fruit, it becomes a challenge and prices usually suffer.”
This season’s fruit quality is much improved over last season, Rodgers said. He said the fruit has better shape, little wind scar and excellent brix and sugar ratios.