Contact: Edith Chenault, (979) 845-2886,email@example.com
COLLEGE STATION – The citrus harvest continues in the Rio Grande Valley, with growers keeping an eye on near-freezing temperatures and low market prices, the Texas Agricultural Extension Service reports.
Hidalgo County Extension Agent Dr. Juan Anciso of Edinburg said cloud cover has kept temperatures in the thirties and prevented any damage to the crop. Picking and shipping began in September and will continue through May, he said.
“We’re a little bit behind in terms of production in comparison with last year,” he said. “But I think that’s mostly due to the market. If the market improves here, or if Florida does have some problems with their crop and the market improves, there will be a lot more movement.”
Anciso said the price range for average-sized, or size 40, grapefruit is from $6.50 to $7 per 40-pound box. He said orange prices range from $6 to $7 per 40-pound box, with both ranges $2 to $3 less than last year’s prices.
Extension horticulturist Dr. Julian Sauls of Welasco said he isn’t counting on freeze damage in Florida to affect the market. He said damage was minimal and confined to a small region.
“If it freezes in Texas, we’re very democratic, and we all get hurt,” he said. “Citrus in Florida and California is scattered from one end of the state to the other, practically speaking. They can have a freeze in one area and not in the other and still have a crop. Whereas, if we have a major freeze, because we are concentrated in a smaller area, it affects all of us, and it hurts the industry overall.”
Instead, Sauls said he is hoping the market will pick up as winter weather declines.
“I think the biggest downside right now has been the fact that cold, snowy weather through most of the country for the past two weeks or so has probably hindered people’s access to the supermarkets,” he said. “And so they haven’t been buying, because they haven’t been going.”
Sauls said while fruit color and quality are excellent, harvest continues at a slow and steady pace.
“The weather is slowing down harvesting,” he said. “Drizzly conditions make it kind of miserable for crews.”