South Texas Winter Grapefruit Clobbered by February Freeze, Vegetable Shipments Look Better

South Texas Winter Grapefruit Clobbered by February Freeze, Vegetable Shipments Look Better

Lower Rio Grande Valley grapefruit shipments overall are predicted to be down nearly 70 percent this season, thanks to a devastating freeze last February. Meanwhile, winter vegetable shipments are expected to be more normal.

Grapefruit and orange loading typically start in south Texas during October, but the Texas International Produce Associations reports the 2021 Valentine freeze resulted in a later-starting crop. That delayed shipments, finally picking up around Thanksgiving and winding down in March.

However, overall grapefruit shipments could be down by two-thirds from a normal season.

Struggling to find good news in the whole debacle, the association notes while the overall volume will be lighter, fruit size and quality should be good. Less fruit on the tree means larger sizes.

Lone Star Citrus Growers of Mission, TX reports much of the fruit is also hanging on the internal branches of the tree due to the outer canopy loss after the freeze. Hopefully, this will result in fewer outer blemishes caused by the wind.

The company increased its acreage for this season and expects to produce 75% of what it had last year. Lone Star Citrus, like other marketers, will operate on a condensed harvesting and packing schedule, allowing the firm to maximize efficiencies.

The operation contends despite the fierce freeze in February, the longer-term outlook for Texas citrus is positive and sees having 80 percent of a crop next season.

Lone Star Citrus markets grapefruit and a variety of orange varieties, including marrs, navel, pineapple and valencia.

Vegetable Shipments

Lone Star vegetable shipments kicked off with herbs in early November, with items ranging from cilantro to parsley, and cabbage, followed soon by kale.

Grow Farms Texas, Donna, TX, continues to grow its program in south Texas on both domestic and Mexico Grown products.  Its cabbage survived last year’s February freeze, resulting in a great Saint Patrick’s day harvest. An even better crop is seen this year.

The company is looking at good cucumber and bell pepper production out of Mexico, along with increasing volume of eggplant and squash. It is increasing its hot peppers volume each year, led by jalapeno and serrano.