Under the headline "Mexico releases part of water owed" (Valley Morning Star, March 30), the leadin states "Mexico has released 262,674 acre-feet of the 600,000 acre-feet it said it would release by July 31..." It sounds great-but don't expect any additional allocations from your water district just yet. As you read further, you learn that 262,674 acre-feet is the amount of water that was transferred from Mexico's ownership to the U.S. between October and February.

Going into the facts, officials in Washington announced on March 19 that hopefully by July 31 but no later than September 30, Mexico plans to release a total of 600,000 acre-feet of water for the period that began October 2, 2000-including 262,674 acre-feet already released. There is a little problem in terminology here, i.e., there has not been nor is there likely to be (with one exception) any water released from impoundments in Mexico. Rather, there has only been a transfer of ownership of the water already in Falcon and Amistad reservoirs-both some of what was allocated to Mexico from previous inflows and the so-called 50-50 water that enters the reservoirs.

It should be acknowledged that the transfers above are why the U.S. share of existing water is higher than it has been in recent years for this time of year. By contrast, look at Mexico's ownership share-only about 9.78 percent compared to a U.S. share at 44.53 percent of conservation levels as of March 26. Still, the agreement basically provides this years's 350,000 acre-feet, plus 250,000 acre feet to credit against the 1.4 million acre-feet debt.

The aforementioned agreement lays out several points-only two of which are really new. First, Mexico agreed to give the U.S. all of the 50-50 water until July 31. They have been doing that since last year, but now it's in writing. Second, the agreement also spells out that Mexico will complete a repayment plan by December 31, 2001. Those are the new factors.

The agreement also states that Mexico will give the U.S. one-third of all runoff through the six named tributaries downstream from the impoundments. Basically, that is water that they cannot capture, a third of which is allocated to the U.S. anyway.

Finally, Mexico intends to release (really, release from impoundment) 130,000 acre-feet from the Carranzas Dam to provide water for the Tamaulipas side of the river?of which 43,333 acre-feet will go into the U.S. account. And that is the only water that will be actually released from impoundments in Mexico-all the rest is simply ownership transfers.

The bottom line is that the 600,000 acre-feet is comprised of the already-transferred 262,674 acre-feet, a third of the actual release of 130,000 acre-feet from impoundments, and the balance of 294,000 acre-feet which must come from a) runoff below the impoundments in Mexico or b) from non-metered inflows into the reservoirs. In other words, nearly half of the water in the agreement is based on rainfall that has yet to occur.

To make it interesting, let's assume that each of the two sources of potential water above provide about half of the estimated amount. If runoff below the impoundments is to provide 150,000 acre feet, then there must be 450,000 total acre-feet of such runoff-since we get a third of it. For the remaining 144,000 acre feet to come from 50-50 water, there must be 288,000 acre-feet of such runoff, since half of its is ours anyway. In other words, to meet the terms of the agreement (under this scenario), there must be enough rainfall and runoff below Mexico's impoundments and along both sides of the river above the reservoirs to generate 738,000 acre-feet of water?by July 31 (or September 30). Regardless of proportions from either the one-third or 50-50 waters, it will take an awful lot of rain to generate that much water in the next four or six months-and rainfall is already below average for the year to date.

Hurricane, anyone?


It has been reported that President Bush will name El Paso Mayor Carlos Ramirez as Commissioner of the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission. As you know, IBWC determines how much water comes into the two reservoirs and allocates it to Texas and Mexico according to terms of the 1944 treaty. It is also the responsibility of IBWC to oversee compliance with the treaty.

While it cannot force compliance, IBWC can at least track and should report compliance. I think all of us would have liked to know the status of the annual 350,000 acre-feet from Mexico on a regular basis since 1992-without having to wait until the irrigation district managers found out about the large and long overdue deficit.


The April 1 deadline for TemikŪ application in Texas citrus has been extended to April 20. I am not clear as to why Aventis extended the deadline, but now you still have time to apply it if it's in your pest control program for 2001.

Regardless of the application date, control usually starts breaking down in late June or July. Obviously, the earlier the application, the longer it lasts.


The Texas Citrus IPM Program for the current season gets underway this week and runs through October. The cost for participation is $22.50 per acre, which barely covers salary and expenses of the scouting. In my opinion, the biweekly scouting reports of existing pest situations in the orchard are well-worth the money. I know that many growers do their own scouting or rely on that of other individuals-but the IPM scouting provides both a second opinion, if you will, and a regularity that is hard to duplicate.

If you would like to sign up all or part of your acreage, or would like further information, contact Dr. Juan Anciso at 956/383-1026.


The weather continues dry with below normal rainfall, although the absence of a week or so of near-100 degree days in March was pleasant. Soil moisture is especially critical through the final fruit drop period, which usually ends soon after mid-May, as moisture stress during bloom and fruit set reduces set and reduces cell division, which is the main determinant of fruit size.

Poor fruit set is already being reported in some orchards. With a huge bloom, reduced set should not be a problem. With alternate bearing, the bloom is usually light following the heavy crop-and this is the year for lighter crops, especially in Marrs and some grapefruit. Too, the presence of unharvested fruit during bloom does reduce fruit set-and there were lots of Marrs and navel orchards waiting for harvest when bloom occurred, as well as a substantial number of grapefruit orchards.

Fortunately, the coolness of the winter (and short spring) slowed overwintering pest activity. However, that should change quickly as hot weather prevails. Historically, there always seems to be a cool spell around Easter, which is mid-April-if that happens, our normally hot summer should start the next week.

Drs. French and Sparks have hundreds of traps in area groves trying to capture root weevils as they emerge from the soil. Hopefully, all of their captures will be those weevils that we have always had, with no new Diaprepes finds outside the one orchard where it was first (and repeatedly) detected.


In the good old days not so long ago, Florida shipped in the range of 18 to 24 million boxes of grapefruit. About half of that went to the domestic market, which includes Canada, and half to export markets. In the current season, Florida expects to ship about 8 million boxes to the domestic market and a like amount to export. The 8 million boxes for domestic use translates into about 16 million cartons.

By contrast, Texas red grapefruit shipments amounted to 7.3 million cartons last season and could have approached 8 million cartons this season, based on 18 percent more production. However, because we are currently about 800,000 cartons behind last season, it may be tough to surpass the same total as last season-even though we still have a little over two months to go.

Florida has a Blue Ribbon Committee working on the grapefruit problem. It has met a number of times and has no shortage of opinions offered from industry-but it is too complex a situation to expect overnight improvement. The overall grapefruit market has been declining for years, so it will take years to reverse.

Some would argue that there is simply too much grapefruit production-which is undoubtedly true. Overproduction, however, reduces the profitability of growing grapefruit-it does not bring about a decrease in consumption. In fact, when a product is so cheap, consumption usually goes up.

While we might like it to be otherwise, grapefruit is an acquired taste, not an inherent one. Baby boomers and subsequent generations have simply not acquired the taste for grapefruit-and the earlier, older, generations who have the taste are becoming fewer each day. And that's my NSH opinion as to a major cause in the decline in the number of grapefruit consumers and shipments.

Professor & Extension Horticulturist
2401 East Highway 83
Weslaco TX 78596


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