Fewer grapefruit expected from Florida - The Packer

Fewer grapefruit expected from Florida

11/13/2009 04:09:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Matt Kastensmidt, national sales manager for IMG Citrus Inc., said he expects a strong season.

“Maturities are where they should be and we will have good-eating fruit,” he said.

Though early season prices opened high, Scott George, vice president of sales and marketing for DLF International Inc., said grapefruit prices had begun falling by late October.

George quoted $20 f.o.b.s in early to mid-October and said prices had become more affordable by the end of the month at $14. He said he expected prices to decline to $12 by early November.

“This year seems to be running two to three weeks behind,” he said in late October.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in late October reported 4/5 bushel cartons of Florida red grapefruit in Chicago selling for $26 for 18s, $28-28.50 for 23s and 27s, $28 for 32s, $24-26 for 36s, $22-24 for 40s, and $21 for 48s.

Last year in late October, the USDA reported 4/5 bushel cartons of Florida red grapefruit in Chicago selling for $25 for 23s, $25-26 for 27s, $23-23.50 for 32s, $21.50-24.50 for 36s, $19-19.50 for 40s, and $17.50 for 56s.

Kevin Swords, Florida citrus sales manager for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, said this season is bringing high brix.

“The pipeline is getting filled, as grapefruit is finally up and going now,” he said in late October.

Because the crop is heavier on the smaller sizes, 36s and smaller, Swords said retailers should look to promote the smaller fruit during the first half of the season and through the holidays in bulk and in 5- and 8-pound bags.

Dan Richey, chief executive officer of Riverfront Groves LLC, said the more consistent sizings will help the deal.

“With more uniform sizes out there, it won’t be heavier toward the bigger sizes, which is good because it gives us time to manage the crop,” Richey said in late October. “We won’t be overburdened with the big fruit early. The size structure is very good.”

Richey said the Indian River growing region has experienced a favorable growing season that has produced a uniform bloom.

Mild winters during the past few years prompted the trees to bloom sporadically. Because of this past winter’s cooler than normal temperatures, which saw freezes damage south Florida vegetable production, citrus trees went into a dormant state. As spring came, the trees all emerged at once and produced the uniform bloom, he said.

Richard Miller, domestic sales manager of Premier Citrus Packers Inc., said rainfall has been a little low. but the groves received the rains when needed after going through a drier than normal August.

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