(May 1) Lack of rain and sizing standards for Mexican limes will cause a shortage of big fruit into the summer, importers say.

Small sizes already are dominating supplies. Dene Iliff of the brokerage New Mecca Produce, Edinburg, Texas, said the industry was peaking at sizes 200-230 in late April. Normally, that time of year, it’s at 175s and 200s.

The impact of the size profile was evident in pricing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the following f.o.b.s for 40-pound cartons of limes crossing through south Texas: 110s $26, 150s $24-26, 175s $12-14, 200s $8, 230s $6 and 250s $5-6.

The same time last year, the USDA reported the following markets: 110s $26, 150s $20-22, 175s $16, 200s $12-14 and 230s $10-12.

This season’s smaller sizing, coupled with the fact that Mexico supplies 90% of the U.S. market for limes, should make for an interesting summer, said Herbie Yamamura, general manager of New Limeco LLC, Princeton, Fla.

The larger sizes — 150s, 130s and 110s —were almost nonexistent and fetching f.o.b.s. of $26-28, he said. He expects similar markets for those sizes into late May before pricing levels off around $16-18 and even higher in some cases.

“People are looking for big limes,” Yamamura said. Florida production was just getting under way in late April, he said. He added that New Limeco, with 400 acres of Florida limes, never picks anything smaller than 200 count.

Traditionally, the industry sees lower markets for Mexican limes each summer, when production increases. But if dry conditions continue in Veracruz, one of the main production regions, bloom drop could result and limit supplies down the pike, said Chris Ciruli, salesman for Ciruli Bros., Nogales, Ariz.

For now, the USDA is reporting heavier crossings than the same time last year. This season, the industry imported 11.2 million pounds of Mexican limes crossing through south Texas the week ending April 27. The same time last year, it was 9.1 million, according to the USDA.