(July 25, 2:35 p.m.) Preliminary estimates show up to 20% losses in Texas citrus after a stronger-than-expected Hurricane Dolly made landfall as a Category 2 storm in late July.

After surveying orchards on July 25, Ray Prewett, president of the Mission-based Texas Citrus Mutual, said it was difficult to assess the damage due to flooding.

“It varies tremendously,” Prewett said. “We haven’t been able to do a full assessment but on a preliminary basis it looks like we probably sustained at least 20% loss of our grapefruit.”

More grapefruit was lost than oranges, Prewett said, because the fruit is larger.

“Fortunately, most of our acreage is in the upper valley where the winds weren’t as strong,” he said.

While some orchards closer to the coast appeared to have heavy losses, the primary growing areas in western Hidalgo County seemed to have fared better.

It could be another week or two before a more accurate assessment can be made because there could be some more fruit drop-off.

The storm, which was initially forecast to hit as a weak Category 1, strengthened to a Category 2 with sustained winds near 100 mph.

The storm turned northward after making landfall near the Texas-Mexico border and by evening July 24 had dropped nearly 20 inches in some areas of the Rio Grande Valley.

Dolly ended up being more than the valley anticipated, Prewett said.

“The storm got a little stronger and it just hung around so long,” he said. “Because the system moved so slow, we got more rain and the wind battered the fruit for a longer time.”

As of July 25, levees were holding, but there is still concern that as the storm continues to rain in the Mexican highlands, reservoirs will not be able to contain the water.

“We’ll start to know later this evening or this weekend what the latency or lag effect will be,” he said.