Following the historic February Freeze across Texas, the state’s grapefruit industry is feeling the destruction from the freezing weather.
Yahoo News reports the winter outbreak which hit the subtropical southeastern portion of the state on Valentine’s Day brought icy conditions and extreme cold temperatures damaging two different crops of grapefruit across the region.
This season’s crop of grapefruit, which had only been blooming at the time of the winter outbreak, is expected to provide less than a third of an average harvest.
Texas had been the number one provider of fresh grapefruit in the nation ahead of the outbreak, but the damage done to the groves has since dropped them down to third in the nation, Dale Murden, the president of Texas Citrus Mutual, a trade group that represents the interests of the state’s citrus growers, told AccuWeather’s National Reporter Bill Wadell.
Murden had also spoken with AccuWeather via email back during February. Also a grower, he had mentioned when temperatures dip below 28 degrees and stay below that mark for five hours or longer, the fruit on the branches begins to freeze on the inside, damaging the crop. “Most everyone” saw temperatures drop to at least 21 degrees, he had added.
Texas grapefruit trees encased in ice after a winter storm hammered the state with record cold.
The freeze had hit when the groves still had two crops on the trees — the fruit that was still being harvested and the following season’s crop that was beginning to flower. Murden estimated about 60% of the fruit had remained to be harvested at the time. However, winter’s scythe cut more significantly into the then-flowering groves’ crop that farmers are now waiting to harvest as fruit.
A lot of these groves were in full flower when that freeze hit,” Murden said. “So that legitimately hurt 100% of your next year’s crop — 70 to 80% on the average.”
Murden estimates they’ll have about 30% of a normal crop this harvest due to the freeze. The fruit that did survive was harvested closer to late November rather than when the season typically starts around mid-September into early October. The estimated total financial loss from the freeze hovers around $300 million.