Domestic Citrus Loadings are Increasing after Slow Start

Domestic Citrus Loadings are Increasing after Slow Start

U.S. citrus shipments should be up this season in most growing areas compared to last year, and despite challenges in some areas, growers contend they are shipping some good-quality fruit.

During the late fall in California, the navel orange season got off to a rough start.

The San Joaquin Valley was unusally hot last summer, where most of the state’s oranges are grown. At one point, temperatures topped 100 degrees for more than 30 days straight, which shut down the trees.

As a result, sizing on the fruit, especially the early varieties, was unusually small.

Rainfall around Thanksgiving and in December and early January was helping to improve fruit size. Early this season, citrus growers nationwide had to deal with Southern Hemisphere fruit lingering in the domestic market for longer than usual. There was plenty of questionable quality.

This resulted in October, November and December being sluggish.

But as supplies of imported citrus wound down and domestic movement picked up, markets seemed to be improving. Market improvements finally arrived with the New Year.

Florida’s citrus industry still is recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irma, which hit the state in September 2017, wiping out a large part of the orange and grapefruit crops.

During the 2017-18 season, the state shipped only 45 million 90-box equivalents of oranges, 3.9 million boxes of grapefruit and 750,000 boxes of tangerines.

Hurricane season now is over for Florida growers, but they’re keeping their fingers crossed until March or so, when the threat of freezes should be over.

Up to 95 percent of the Florida’s oranges are grown for processing.

Citrus movement in Texas started off a bit slower than usual this season, mostly because of the large amount of imported fruit remaining the in the distribution pipeline, which slowed shipments. While loadings picked up for Christmas, volume still was behind the previous season.

Still, Texas citrus shipments should be greater this season than last.

Lower Rio Grande Valley citrus, plus Mexican produce crossings – grossing about $4800 to New York City.