Florida citrus industry leaders say they expect a proposed change in white grapefruit size requirements to have little effect except to improve packinghouse efficiency.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in the April 7 Federal Register requested comments for a proposal relaxing size requirements for Florida-grown and imported white seedless grapefruit.

The Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Administrative Committee, which oversees the federal marketing order for Florida citrus, recommended lowering the minimum size requirement from size 48s (3-9/16-inch minimum diameter) to size 56s (3-5/16-inch minimum diameter).

Duke Chadwell, the administrative committee’s manager, said the industry-requested change would equalize regulations for white and red grapefruit and shouldn’t affect much grapefruit. He said the industry has allowed smaller-sized red grapefruit to be shipped in the U.S. and that the proposed rule now opens it up for white grapefruit.

Chadwell said the change should make it easier for packinghouses to avoid costly repacking if an export-bound shipment is cancelled. Responding to domestic market preferences for larger fruit, U.S. shipments require more restrictive minimum sizes. Export markets, however, prefer smaller-sized fruit, he said.

According to the USDA, the committee believes the different minimum size requirements aren’t necessary and changing the rule can help packers ship the fruit to available markets as white grapefruit demand declines.

The USDA plans to receive public comment through June 8.

Comments can be sent to the USDA at www.regulations.gov.