Despite continued drought, Texas citrus grower-shippers expect promotable volumes of high-quality fruit this season.

Edinburg, Texas-based Edinburg Citrus Association expects to begin shipping Texas citrus in early to mid-October this season, right on time, said Jeffrey Arnold, salesman.

“We expect the demand to be very good, maybe even a little stronger” than 2012, Arnold said.

On Sept. 10, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $14.75-15.80 for 7/10-bushel cartons of star ruby grapefruit 27s from California. Last year at the same time, red variety 27s from California sold for $22-24 on the Los Angeles terminal market.

Lone Star Citrus Growers, Mission, Texas, expects to begin shipping Oct. 12-15, said Trent Bishop, vice president of sales.

Demand out of the gate may not be as strong as last year, when there was a gap between California grapefruit and Texas, but it should still be strong, even with a possibly slight overlap, Bishop said.

“Retailers are always excited to switch to Texas,” he said.

Bishop also expects brisk movement of early-season Texas oranges.

About 75% of Lone Star’s citrus deal will be grapefruit, 25% oranges, Bishop said.

Edinburg Citrus will ship RioStar grapefruit, early oranges, navels and valencias this season, Arnold said.

Peak production should begin near the end of November for Edinburg Citrus and last through December, Arnold said.

Yields should be similar to last season, Arnold said.

Volumes and fruit size should be up for Lone Star this season, promising abundant promotional opportunities for retailers beginning about Nov. 20, in plenty of time for Thanksgiving, and lasting through about mid-January, Bishop said.

Texas volumes as a whole should be up, too, in 2013-14, he said.

Rains in late August and early September provided some relief, Arnold said, but didn’t solve the region’s long-term water problems.

“We’re still in a drought, and irrigation is never as good as rain,” he said. “The weather has not been ideal.”

Bishop agreed.

“The rains were a relief, but we’re in the middle of an historic drought down here.”

But Bishop said there has been enough water to produce a good-sized, high-quality crop this season, and Arnold expected quality to be slightly better than last year.