Texas grapefruit volume is still running about 93.4 percent of that at the same period last season, while early orange volume has increased in the last month to 89.2 percent of the movement at this time last year. Navel movement has also increased in January, being nearly 32 percent higher than last season.

The remaining supply of grapefruit is only about 1.8 percent higher than last year, so the grapefruit situation still looks good.

The remaining supply of early oranges is nearly triple that of a year ago, so there seems little doubt that some of those remaining oranges will be diverted to juice-as shipping quality cannot be expected to hold up much longer.

The navel orange season is also about over, and it has surprised some folks-both because of lower returns and higher production. While we do not have an accurate measure of the total navel orange crop as a proportion of the early orange crop, season, the volume of navels sold in commercial channels was about 7,725 tons. This season has already seen about 10,204 tons of navels marketed-and the number will go higher.


As you know, there have been numerous threats of rain during the winter months, but nothing of significance has materialized until this past weekend. While I do not have rainfall data across the citrus belt, reports I have heard range from 0.6 inch to as much as 3.4 inches. It was getting very dry and irrigation had already been applied to many orchards-others were being prepared for irrigation. Hopefully, all orchards received enough rain to carry them into the spring flush; if not, there's always a chance for additional rain in February.

While we have been worried about this situation for the last couple of years, it now appears likely that it is going to get worse before it gets better. Consider the fact that you may have only one or two irrigations allocated for the year and you have to irrigate pre-bloom-that won't leave much for the remainder of the season.

Falcon is down 38.36 feet; Amistad is down 33.29 feet. Our share of the water is
actually less than it was a year ago, so there can be no further allocations for irrigation until there are significant inflows into the reservoirs.


A group of Florida citrus workers, mostly Extension personnel, made an afternoon tour of a couple of orchards in the Valley before embarking into Mexico for a week long tour that will take them down to Vera Cruz. We hosted them at Eubanks and at Sharyland on Super Bowl Sunday, for which we are very appreciative.

Because most of the group had never been to the Valley, we were not surprised about the interest in our irrigation systems (and drainage)-especially because of the gravity flow of water from the canals and pipelines into the orchards. Even in the Indian River and Gulf districts where many orchards are flooded (it's called seepage irrigation rather than flood), the water is pumped into the orchards.

You would expect their interest in Rio and Henderson grapefruit, but they seemed truly surprised that we do not grow any citrus for processing.

Having worked with most of those people 20 years ago, I was especially anticipating the general reaction to our citrus nutrition program and orchard floor management. Florida's ancient beach sands require potassium fertilization in equal or greater amounts to nitrogen, plus phosphorous every few years and supplemental micro-elements annually. Most herbicide use in Florida is limited to strips under the tree rows, with the middles being disked or mowed.

All in all, it was a good afternoon -both from the standpoint of seeing a lot of old friends and co-workers, as well as being able to show off a little bit of the Texas citrus industry.


While reading Nancy Hardy's Citrus Segments in Citrus Industry (January, 1998, p. 9), I was struck by what she reported from the Indian River Citrus League, especially the thoughts of one grower who suggests that PHE grapefruit be sent to a landfill or to a cow pasture instead of to a processor. I have pondered that idea for the last couple of years, without resolution, so those comments piqued my interest sufficiently that I endeavored to ascertain the economics of that prospect. For better or for worse, the following is what I came up with, give or take an error factor of 10 percent or so.

First, you should be cognizant that fruit that ends up on the elimination line incurs certain costs to get to that point. Obviously, pick and haul is the first cost, but don't forget that storage, degreening, washing, waxing, drying, sizing and grading are not free.

As a result, I figure that eliminated grapefruit has incurred $65 to 70 per ton costs in the process of going from the orchard to the elimination line of a packinghouse. If that eliminated grapefruit is simply hauled off and dumped in a pasture somewhere for the cows to eat, the grower has, therefore, paid $65 to 70 per ton for that privilege-not one cent of which he'll ever recover.

On the other hand, the fruit goes to TCX and is processed into by-products and juice or concentrate, after which those products are ultimately sold-perhaps taking two or more years. The returns on the processed products will trickle in during that time and be paid to growers. It still costs the grower $65 to 70 per ton for the eliminated fruit, but he or she will get some of that cost back in time-certainly not all $65 or 70, but possibly as much as half or a little more.

So, it doesn't take a genius to figure it out-processing of eliminated grapefruit is still the better of the two options, although both result in losses to the grower. The only practical way to reduce grapefruit elimination losses is to improve management practices to produce a higher packout of fresh fruit. Even then, one should carefully calculate the economics of an additional spray or higher spray rates or more expensive and longer lasting products in light of any increased packout that might be achieved from such action.

Some smaller growers who have the time and the inclination have reduced grapefruit PHE by pulling obviously cull fruit from the trees in advance of harvest, but such operation would not be economically feasible if they had to pay for the labor that would be expended culling the fruit in the orchard.


In light of the above, let's use an example in order to demonstrate how the
economics of extra management would work. To do this, let's assume that the ultimate net loss on PHE grapefruit is $30 per ton and let's further assume that
existing packout runs 65 percent on 15 tons production per acre. Finally, let's assume that you can raise packout by 5 percent by spending an extra $80 per acre and that the value of fresh fruit is $90 per ton.

At 65 percent packout, you would have 9.75 tons of fresh, whereas 70 percent packout would provide 10.5 tons of fresh-an increase of 0.75 tons. At $90 per ton, that would mean an increase of $67.50 in returns-which is less than the $80 it costs to get that higher packout. However, that extra 0.75 ton would not be going to juice and would therefore save another $22.50 from the reduced juice loss. Thus, the expenditure of $80 would return $90.

Obviously, $10 more per acre isn't much, but this amount could run considerably
higher, or lower, depending upon changes in any of the assumptions used above. That is, higher production, higher fruit value, higher packout and lower cost of the additional management input would each increase the net return, while the reverse in each factor would reduce the net return.

Because each of these variables, individually and collectively, affect the bottom line of such action, this kind of problem is ideally suited to electronic spreadsheet manipulation whereby you can plug in different values for each variable and immediately see the effect of such change or changes.


Harvesting is still the major activity as the navel and early orange seasons wind down. Harvest of true Pineapple and other mid-season oranges shouldn't take long to complete, since there isn't a lot of acreage of those varieties. Valencia harvest will likely commence as soon as the early oranges finish. Irrigation is perhaps the major production input at present, as all orchards will need water between last month and bloom, unless we get adequate rainfall.

Fertilization has started for those who wait until pre-bloom to apply it. Some growers are also gearing up to put out the spring herbicide. Both practices should be coordinated with the irrigation schedule so that they are completed in time for irrigation.


A total of 120 participants entered 876 samples of citrus at this year's Citrus Youth Show held in conjunction with Texas Citrus Fiesta.

The Grand Champion was awarded to Ruby Red grapefruit entered by Ebed Silva, Jr., of Teacher Academy with Reserve Champion going to Marrs orange entered by D.J. Wernecke of Shary FFA.

The Champion Star Ruby was entered by Ebed Silva, Jr., as was the Champion Ray/Henderson grapefruit.

Brice Wernecke of Shary FFA had the Champion Rio Red grapefruit, and D.J. Wernecke of Shary FFA had the Champion Hamlin, Champion Navel and Champion Pineapple.

Jennifer Williamson entered the Champion Valencia and Paul Neugebauer entered the Champion Jaffa orange. Both are in Shary FFA.

The Mark Carpenter Memorial Scholarship of $500 was awarded to Viviana Longoria of Mission.

The Grower Award went to Shary Orchards for having provided the fruit for the most winning entries while the Mark Carpenter Sweepstakes Belt Buckle was won by D.J. Wernecke for having the most placing entries.

Top fruit judging honors for both seniors and juniors went to four-member teams from Shary FFA. In citrus fruit identification involving 30 different varieties of citrus, the High Senior was Paul Neugebauer and the High Junior was Carlos Ascencion, both of Shary FFA.

Congratulations to all of these individuals as well as to all of the other young
people who participated in this event. A special thanks is also due to all the
growers who let these young people select fruit in their orchards and to the
sponsors who supported the awards and auction.

Finally, a special thanks to Joe Correa and a number of assistants who organized and recorded the entries; to numerous individuals who helped train and coach the participants; and to the eight judges who selected the top entries in each variety of citrus and set up the judging and identification contests.

Professor & Extension Horticulturist
2401 East Highway 83
Weslaco TX 78596


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