Some got out of the gate with a flourish, and some are running a little late, but all can agree that Texas citrus is looking great this year.
“The weather has been our advocate this year,” said Richard Walsh, marketing director for Healds Valley Farms Inc., Edinburg, Texas. “During the summer months, we had plenty of rain, and the temperature were not as hot as the past years.”
Walsh said Healds Valley has been running at or near capacity since Oct. 1., which is generally on their schedule.
Over at Rio Queen Citrus Inc., Mission, Texas, packing lines were running a little early, said Gretchen Kreidler, marketing director.
“We started Sept. 30,” she said. “That’s about a week or two early for us, but the fruit was mature.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast for the 2010-11 Texas citrus season is 1.69 million cartons of oranges and 5.5 million cartons of grapefruit.
Lone Star Citrus Growers, Mission, held off a week before getting started, said Trent Bishop, sales manager.
“We typically try to have it the first Monday in October,” he said. “We just held off a week.”
Bishop said a fair amount of competitive fruit still was on the market in late October.
“It seems to me that there is a little more on the market than usual,” he said. “We’re still seeing some California citrus and Australian navels and a little bit of California tree fruit to get cleared out.”
The good news is, Bishop said, come November most retailers are ready for Texas citrus.
“Retailers are happy to see Texas get started,” he said. “People look forward to that Texas grapefruit.”
So far this season fruit was looking a little on the small side, Bishop said.
“It was surprising given the amount of rain we had this year” he said. “Over the last six weeks, it has had time to pick up some size.”
There is no question about fruit quality this year, shippers said.
“After Mother Nature only gave us one bloom — and a very good one — weather has been conducive to a good crop,” Walsh said.
“Along with this, we did not have the high winds when the fruit was small, so we do not have the wind scar that we usually have. Therefore we have a very good crop, high in sugar and juice, with little scarring that is flat, thin-skinned and always the reddest in the marketplace.”