IN THIS ISSUE:
FLORIDA CROP ESTIMATES
TEXAS CROP ESTIMATES
MEDFLIES IN CALIFORNIA
FLORIDA CROP ESTIMATES—
The numbers are in, but no one expected them to be quite so low. Pre-estimate sentiments ranged from 170 to 200 million boxes of oranges in Florida groves this season, but the National Agricultural Statistics Service and the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service came up with only 168 million boxes for the season. The estimate is based on tree counts, fruit counts per tree and fruit size.
Overall, the estimate is 30.2 percent greater than last season’s final orange crop.
In grapefruit, the statisticians are predicting an 8.1 percent decrease from last season, with 25 million boxes forecast. The makeup is 9 whites and 16 coloreds. You can see all the information http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/ Florida/Publications/Citrus/cit/2007-08/cit1007.pdf.
TEXAS CROP ESTIMATES—
Over to our side of the forecast, you should realize first that the numbers for us are not based on the same kind of science as used in Florida—there are no tree counts, fruit counts or fruit measurements. Ours is more a consensus of opinion in relation to prior production.
Since the feds still report “boxes” for Texas, and most of us probably don’t know what that is, I have taken the liberty of converting the numbers into tons—which is what we use here—and to carlots or 1000-carton equivalents as used by TVCC.
Early/mids are forecast at 59,500 tons which is about 2,900 carlots or 1000-carton equivalents. The final last season was 66,491 tons and about 3,129 carlots or 1000-carton equivalents. This represents a decrease of about 9.4 percent.
Valencias are forecast at 14,875 tons which is about 700 carlots or 1000-carton equivalents. The final last season was 15,597 tons and about 734 carlots or 1000-carton equivalents. This represents a decrease of about 7.9 percent.
Grapefruit are forecast at 272,000 tons which is about 13,600 carlots or 1000-carton equivalents. The final last season was 283,280 tons and about 14,164 carlots or 1000-carton equivalents. This represents a decrease of about 4.2 percent.
It is gratifying to note that the official estimate echoes something I wrote a couple of months ago to the effect that semi-alternate bearing trends of the last 15 or so years indicate that production would be down this season. Of course, the season has just started and a lot can happen between now and next April or May.
When there’s seemingly plenty of rain, we tend to forget about water altogether. Thus, it might surprise many to know that the last five-year cycle of water deliveries from Mexico ended on October 2, 2007. Perhaps even more of a surprise is that there is no carryover debt from Mexico—all waters due the U.S. were delivered, thereby fulfilling the terms of the Water Treaty.
Essentially, Mexico transferred ownership of 224,000 acre feet of water near the end of the cycle to fulfill its obligations for the year and the cycle. Thus, the new five-year cycle which commenced in October began with all debts settled. We can only hope that Mexico maintains the ability to deliver the required 350,000 acre feet per year so that we never again have to go through the shortages that began in 1998.
Perhaps indicative of the future, so much of the deliveries by Mexico were transfers of ownership of water that was already in the two reservoirs. The situation really has not changed much—the water that enters the Rio Grande from Mexico is water that comes from runoff of rains that occurred below the Mexican dams. In other words, there is no dam close enough to the river to capture that rainfall, so it runs off into the river.
One has to wonder about our counterparts along the Mexican side of the Rio Bravo—has their agriculture diminished so much that they no longer need the water that used to be theirs? Or is it that they have been sacrificed for the greening of the deserts of Chihuahua?
The U. S. International Trade Commission has just reaffirmed its 2006 ruling that Brazilian FCOJ processors illegally “dumped” orange juice into the U. S. market. Dumping is the sale of a product at less than its cost of production. This action came about a year and a half after the U. S. Court of International Trade directed that the ITC clarify certain issues of its original ruling.
In addition, the ITC rejected a petition filed by Tropicana back in June that it review its original action in light of changes that have occurred in the market. The Court ruled that many of the factors cited in Tropicana’s motion were already known at the time of its original ruling in spring, 2006.
What’s Tropicana got to do with it? Tropicana is one of the major processors that imports Brazilian juice. If the ITC action stands, Tropicana and the other processors involved in the initial complaint will be required to open their books to the ITC.
Essentially, the U. S. Court of International Trade will review this action and either affirm (accept) it or remand it to the ITC yet again. In addition, the ITC’s ruling on the Tropicana petition can be appealed.
So, until the CIT decides, “it ain’t over”.
MEDFLIES IN CALIFORNIA—
For the second time this fall, medflies have turned up in California—this time in Santa Clara County. Presently, state and federal authorities are dropping millions of sterile medflies daily in order to eliminate the problem.
It is ironic that we in horticulture have kinda always prided ourselves on the fact that fruits, vegetables and ornamentals are not government-subsidized crops like cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans, et cetera. Yet, it seems that there is always a need for federal funds in horticulture—fruit fly eradications, tree and crop insurance subsidies, port of entry inspections, and the list goes on.
I mention this now in the context that Congress will soon develop its compromise farm bill for the current fiscal year (that started October 1). The drafts include $1.6 billion in the House version and $2.0 billion in the Senate version for specialty crops over the next five years. Most, but not all, specialty crops are fruits, vegetables, or ornamentals.
I wonder what Mr. Jefferson would have said about that?
The September start to our shipping season is reflected in the season-to-date numbers. Through October 21 last season, Texas shippers counted only 193,047 cartons moved to market, while we counted 544,634 cartons for this season as of October 20. The increase is just less than three times more fruit.