VERO BEACH, Fla. — While grower-shippers had begun light harvesting in mid-October, shipments of this fall’s Florida tangerines, grapefruit and oranges began a week to 10 days later than normal.
The delay, caused by a later spring bloom affected by winter freezes, brought lighter supplies to the front end of Florida’s season, which opened with stronger than normal prices.
DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, began light shipments of fallglo tangerines, navel oranges and ambersweet oranges in early October.
Kevin Swords, Florida citrus sales manager, called the fall growing season ideal.
He said DNE was testing maturities of grapefruit, which it planned to begin harvesting in late October.
“The fruit will be a little smaller starting out,” he said in mid-October. “That will entail managing the crop properly, meaning the need to go spot pick a couple of times and try to manager our days that way vs. just going in and grabbing a bunch of business and before you know it, we’re out of fruit come January.”
Though buyers should expect grapefruit to begin shipments with small sizings, Swords said retailers should be able to promote grapefruit as usual in November and December.
A later California start in early November should also provide Florida shippers a good opportunity to promote navels, which ship primarily fresh.
“The main thing is we have a normal crop (of navels),” Swords said. “It was down quite a bit last year. We are excited to get some promotions under our belts.”
Because of an expected later start of California and imported clementines, Swords said Florida shippers should have a good promotional window for sunburst tangerines.
Normally, Florida shippers have to wait until Thanksgiving to promote the tangerines that follow fallglo tangerines, but this season, Swords said shippers should be able to run promotions during the first and second weeks of November.
Pat Rodgers, president of Greene River Marketing Inc., agreed that grapefruit sizings are smaller.
“The fruit size is not that big,” he said. “Last year, we were plagued by smaller sizes. We should have the same issues this year except for certain areas and certain pockets that have larger fruit.”