(Feb. 18) This year’s citrus crop has been successful to the point that some shippers are sold out until their next shipments arrive in late February or early March.

The Texas Citrus Exchange, Edinburg, , has sold all its early-season varieties of oranges.

“Right now, we’re waiting on our valencias, which should be arriving in about three weeks,” Paula Fouchek said on Feb. 17. “But hey, you can’t complain about being finished,” she said, referring to the early season’s pick.

Fouchek, sales promoter and marketer for the Texas Citrus Exchange, said that this has been a strong year for Texas oranges.

Ruben Shives, salesman for Texas Citrus Exchange, said that there is a strong demand for oranges that are on the large and the small ends of the size spectrum.

Shives quoted Feb. 18 f.o.b.s for 4/5-bushel cartons of oranges from Texas at $11.25 for 27s, $9.75 for 32s, $7.50 for 36s, $6.75 for 40s, $6 for 48s, and $5 for 56s.

Richard Walsh, marketing director for Healds Valley Farms Inc., Edinburg, said that Healds was well stocked with both grapefruit and oranges until the next shipments come along.

“We have adequate supplies to last us for the next three weeks,” Walsh said.

He said that Healds still had plenty of the pineapple variety.

Walsh said that f.o.b.s on 4/5-bushel of Texas grapefruit were $11-12 for 32s and larger, $7.50-8 for 36s, and $6.50 for 48s and smaller.

FLORIDA

The citrus season in Florida has been going just as well as for the growers in Texas, according to Paul Genke, director of sales and marketing for The Packers of Indian River Ltd., Fort Pierce, Fla.

The market is strong, said Genke, whose company exports grapefruit internationally. He estimated that Florida’s total volume of grapefruit was up from last year.

Bruce McEvoy, chief executive officer of Seald Sweet, Vero Beach, Fla., said a strong euro and strong yen have helped the Florida export market for grapefruit. He estimated that exports were up 10% from last year.

Genke said that we are in the middle of the peak season for grapefruit in Florida.

“This is the time of year when demand is the highest,” Genke said. “Grapefruit season will be over in seven or eight weeks.”

The Packers of Indian River has sold out of its early-season pick of star rubies grapefruit, mainly because the pick was down 70% in volume this year. Genke maintains that the overall season has been good.

Genke quoted the f.o.b.s on red variety grapefruit at $10.50 for a 4/5-bushel of 27s and larger, and $9.50 for 32s.

CALIFORNIA

Shippers in California are packing citrus between rain showers, said Mike Aiton, senior vice president of sales, Sun World International Inc., Bakersfield, Calif.

“We get out and pick in the spots that we can when the rains let up,” Aiton said.

Aiton said that California was having a good year. He said that there was a lot of fruit left to be picked and that Sun World was only about 40% through with its citrus pick this year.

There are a lot of the larger sizes in grapefruit, oranges, and lemons, he said.

“We’re experiencing a glut on the large sizes of lemons the past two months,” Aiton said, “The size has been so good this year.”

He said that February through April will be key months for retailers to promote citrus products.

Aiton also mentioned that exports to the Pacific Rim countries were good this year.

“A tremendous amount of navel oranges are going to Korea,” he said.

Joel Nelson, a representative from California Citrus Mutual, Exeter, Calif., said that February is usually an inconsistent month for the citrus market, but that this year had not been too bad so far. He said California f.o.b.s on 72-88 sized fruit were at $8.50-9.

Shippers expect the citrus market to hold steady for the next eight weeks.