Paramount beefs up grapefruit program

Paramount Citrus, Delano, Calif., a big player in the Rio Grande Valley, is planning to get even bigger in coming years, said president David Krause.

“Our owners believe so strongly in the potential that we are continuing to acquire land and plant additional acreage,” Krause said.

A high-tech insect-free nursery was recently built with the capacity to grow several hundred thousand trees per year. Paramount is also planting more grapefruit trees at the rate of up to 500 acres per year for the next several years.

Two years after the company’s citrus operation acquisitions, Krause said the consolidation is complete and the “real focus is big promotion of our Sweet Scarletts.”

The marketing name for Paramount’s grapefruit will highlight the fruit’s deep red interior nationwide this year with point-of-sale material, national coupons, social media and new high-graphic packaging and bag combos.


South Tex Organics expands storage

South Tex Organics, Mission, Texas, plans to expand its cold room facilities and packing warehouse by 12,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet by the first quarter of 2015, said president Dennis Holbrook.

In addition to growing citrus, the company added more vegetable acreage this season, Holbrook said.


Texas pest group appoints chairman

The Texas Citrus Pest and Disease Management Corp., a Mission-based nonprofit organization, was officially mandated by the Texas state legislature to address the threat of Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing disease, or citrus greening.

To that effect, industry veteran Dale Murden became the organization’s chairman in October.

Murden joined the grower-funded group to help keep the Texas citrus industry strong and prevent a major greening outbreak like the one that hit Florida.

“It’s a challenge,” said Murden, a South Texan who has been involved in citrus as a grower and growth care manager his whole life.


TIPA membership continues to grow

There has been significant membership growth at the Mission-based Texas International Produce Association, president Bret Erickson said.

Nearly 170 industry stakeholders are part of the group, which Erickson attributes to the increasingly international nature of the organization as more members become importers from Mexico and exports to Canada rise.

“We have seen transformation of the Texas produce industry,” Erickson said of the doubling of membership in the past two years.

New members include importers, customs brokers and economic development organizations from cities. The latter led to the creation of a new membership category.

“Cities want to partner with us to solve issues at the ports,” he said.

TIPA’s annual budget is up to $600,000.


U.S. Citrus plants lime acreage

Mani Skaria, chairman, founder and CEO of Hargill, Texas-based U.S. Citrus and a former professor in the citrus department at Texas A&M, plans to have 155 acres of citrus planted by year’s end.

“We will produce limes with lots of juice,” Skaria said of his high-density plantings.

He expects to be in production by 2015 with his main production in 2016.

Skaria counts innovation as his edge on the bigger growers, increasing density, lowering costs to $10 per plant and bringing his plants into production in 18 months to two years.

Skaria has already sold his trees and high-density planting strategy to commercial farmers in South Texas, he said. U.S. Citrus has 500 acres with an option to grow on another 500 acres, Skaria said.

In addition to commercial Persian limes, which make up 70% of his citrus crop, Skaria grows grapefruits, lemons, oranges and tangerines and is hoping to sell citrus trees commercially.

“I would like for U.S. families to take care of fruit trees in their home just like they are bringing up a puppy, as a family,” he said.