Posts Tagged “citrus greening”

Florida Lowers Fruit Quality Standards

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Bcitrusy The Florida Citrus Commission

The Florida Citrus Commission unanimously agreed recently to industry requests to lower fruit quality standards for the 2015-16 season.

The commission governs the Florida Department of Citrus, which regulates fruit quality standards. Citrus fruit must meet certain maturity standards before it can be harvested for commercial use. The commission agreed to lower the standard for sugar solids in oranges to 8 percent from 8.7 percent. Annually, 95 percent of Florida oranges go to juice. It also agreed to suspend for the 2015-16 season the regulation that navel oranges, mostly sold as fresh, must have at least 0.36 percent citric acid. Oranges were having difficulty reaching those levels because of the damaging effects of the fatal bacterial disease citrus greening, which is endemic in Florida groves.

Apparently items such as limes and lemons were not affected by the new standards.

Florida Pepper Shipments

Florida pepper shipments continue and may improve some.  Pepper prices have been high, but now Mexican peppers are giving Florida competition, and lower prices, which result in more shipments.

Florida Grapefruit Shipments

Florida grape fruit shipments are underway, and apparently haven’t been as adversely affected as navel oranges due to a disease call greening.  Grapefruit shipments have declined over the years with fading popularity, but some observers believe shipments this season will exceed those of a year ago.

Light to moderate shipments of Central and Southern Florida citrus, vegetables and strawberries – grossing about $1900 to Chicago.


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Lowest FL Orange Harvest In 52 Years Predicted; Chilean Cherries

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021An unprecedented reduction in the projected Florida citrus crop just a month after its initial forecast has been issued by the USDA.

Florida is predicted to produce only 74 million boxes of oranges, the lowest harvest in 52 years. That is 6 million fewer boxes of oranges than its Oct. 9 projection, an 8 percent decline, and 24 percent below the 2014-15 orange crop of 96.8 million boxes.

The Florida grapefruit shipments have been cut by 100,000 boxes to 12.2 million boxes, but left the projected tangerine crop at 1.75 million boxes.  The expected tangelo harvest plummeted by 11 percent over the month to just 400,000 boxes, the lowest total in 59 years.

The increasingly damaging effects of the fatal bacterial disease citrus greening, which has spread to virtually all of Florida’s 501,396 grove acres, led to the reductions. Greening’s most significant effects on the crop are smaller fruit sizes and an increase in the amount of mature fruit that drops to the ground before it can be harvested.

Chilean Cherry Imports

As of mid November, Chile has exported 32,661 boxes of cherries vs. 992,334 boxes (156 tons vs. 4,392 tons) compared to the same time last year.  This is a reflection of a delay in harvest dates caused in part by an unusually cold spring, as well as a drop in production due to other weather conditions.

The committee has released a revised estimate of 88,500 tons (17.7 million cases), a reduction of 31,500 tons from its original projection in September and a decrease of 14,500 tons from last season.

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Grapefruit Consumption Plunges

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DSCN2969+1Grapefruit consumption has declined, according to USDA data.

While consumers haven’t completely abandoned grapefruit, as of 2013, Americans ate just over 2.5 pounds of fresh, pulpy citrus on average each year.

In 1976, at the height of America’s love for grapefruit, few fruits were more popular.  The average American citizen ate almost 25 pounds of grapefruit each year.  Since then, however, fresh grapefruit consumption has plunged by 70 percent, and total grapefruit consumption, which includes the processed kind often used for juice, has tumbled by almost 80 percent.

Grapefruits are likely falling victim to the growing demand for convenience in the United States.  Americans want foods that are fast and easy, fruits that can be eaten with a single hand.

It’s not a convenient fruit eat, especially when people can grab a banana, an apple, and head out the door.

USDA data show that this is, in many ways, true. Americans eat almost 40 percent more fresh fruit that they did some 40 years ago. Bananas, in particular, have grown in popularity over the years, with consumption being over 60 percent greater per person than it was in the 1970s.

Nothing, however, has been more detrimental to America’s ability to enjoy grapefruits over the years than an insect-borne disease called citrus greening, which has ravaged production.  The disease, which first crept into Florida, where some three-quarters of all grapefruits are grown in the country, in the early 2000s, has turned grapefruit farming into a nightmare.

Grapefruits, which are typically among the cheapest citrus, have gotten more expensive over the years. And higher prices have meant even lower demand.


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Citrus Shipments Plunge 13% in 5 Years

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DSCN4685Citrus  shipments have declined 13 percent between 2007 and 2012, mostly from Florida.
The USDA’s Census of Agriculture shows that citrus acreage declined to 877,701 acres in 2012 due to primarily citrus greening in Florida.  The disease affected nearly all citrus crops except tangerines.
What’s more, at just over 13,000 farms in 2012, the number of U.S. citrus orchards dropped a whopping 17% from 2007. As a percent of total fruit and tree nut acreage, citrus in 2012 accounted for 17 percent of total U.S. orchard acreage, down from 20 percent in 2007 and 24 percent in 2002.
U.S. grapefruit production tumbled from 156,869 acres in 2002 to 88,393 acres in 2012, while orange acreage slid from 987,743 in 2012 to 670,386 acres in 2012.
Headed the other way, U.S. citrus imports have increased over the last decade, rising from 419,053 metric tons in 2002 to 840,103 metric tons in 2014.
An exception in U.S. citrus acreage shows tangerines have experienced remarkable strength.  The USDA reports tangerine acreage in the U.S. rose from 31,419 acres in 2002 to 36,965 acres in 2007 and 42,289 acres in 2012. In a 10-year period where total citrus acreage sank by 32 percent, tangerine acreage shot up 34 percent.
Most tangerine acreage increases have come from California, with a fourfold increase in acreage (8,058 acres in 2002 to 33,465 acres in 2012).  The state now accounts for 80 percent of all mandarin acreage in the U.S.   Slumping like other varieties, Florida’s tangerine acreage dropped 60 percent from 2002 and 2012.
Like Florida, will California eventually have to deal with the ravages of HLB?  California continues to expand the quarantine for the citrus greening (Huanglongbing or HLB) carrying vector, the Asian Citrus Pysllid (ACP). The California Department of Food and Agriculture says ACP county-wide quarantines are now in place in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties, with portions of Fresno, Kern Madera, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Clara counties are also under quarantine.
Despite much research money devoted to the quest, there is no cure for citrus greening yet.  Thankfully, the CDFA notes that “HLB has been detected just once in California – in 2012 on a single residential property in Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County.”
Southern California citrus – grossing about $4500 to Dallas.

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Funding to Fight Green Citrus is Announced

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DSCN4971Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam called for increased funding to fight citrus greening, which is threatening to decimate Florida’s famed citrus crop. The U.S. Department of Agriculture revised its estimate recently for the 2014-15 harvest season to 103 million boxes of oranges, a decline from the forecast released in 2014.

“Now is the time to put all the resources we can toward fighting citrus greening,” said Commissioner Putnam. “We must do what we can to save Florida’s signature crop, an industry that generates $9 billion in annual economic impact and supports 76,000 jobs for Floridians.”

The USDA announcement estimates 103 million boxes of oranges will be harvested this season, down from the forecast of 108 million boxes announced in 2014 and also a decline from the 104 million boxes produced in 2014, the lowest on record. This represents a total decline of 60 percent since the peak of citrus production at 254 million boxes in 1997-98.

“State and federal governments, along with Florida’s citrus growers, have dedicated more than $230 million to support research over the past decade, and there are some promising leads,” Commissioner Putnam said. “I’ve requested an additional $18 million from the state this year to continue in-depth research, grow clean citrus stock, and replant where diseased trees have been removed.”


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Texas Citrus Shipments Should Not be Hurt by Disease – at Least This Season

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DSCN4293Produce trucking of Florida citrus has been significantly affected due to what is known as citrus greening.  This disease has now shown up in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, but citrus should not be adversely affected — at least for this season.

While citrus greening is spreading in Texas, but it is not expected  to hurt the 2014 orange and grapefruit crops and the loading opportunities for produce haulers.  Luckily, the greening hasn’t been in Texas long enough to likely harm fruit this season, or its quality or volume.

So far this season, growers haven’t reported fruit drop or unusually small fruit — two signs of greening.

The orange harvest should begin in late September and grapefruit harvest in mid-October, with both fruits likely to start shipping in volume by late October or early November.

The disease is spread by a mottled brown bug no bigger than a pencil eraser.  It arrived in the U.S.  via an invasive bug called the Asian Citrus Psyllid, which carries bacteria that are left behind when the psyllid feeds on a citrus tree’s leaves.  The tree continues to produce usable fruit, but eventually disease clogs the vascular system.  Fruit falls, and the tree slowly dies.

The presence of greening also isn’t expected to limit shipments of Texas citrus to California, other U.S. states or even foreign markets.  As long as fruit is shipped without stems or leaves, it is not at risk for spreading greening,

Citrus greening has spread in three Texas counties where oranges and red grapefruit are grown, establishing a “stronghold” in commercial groves and residential trees.  There were 430 infected trees in commercial groves – including more than 50 in one block alone – and 207 infected trees in residential areas. Hidalgo, Cameron and Harris counties are under quarantine because of citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing or HLB.

The Texas Department of Agriculture is requiring all citrus trees in a 10-county area to be produced in an enclosed certified structure, to help keep the disease from infecting nurseries,

“The question weighing heavily on the minds of growers and many others in South Texas is whether Texas can avoid a catastrophic situation for our citrus industry, which wasn’t the case for our eastern neighbors in Florida,” said Ray Prewett, president of Texas Citrus Mutual, in  a press release.

Mexican fruits and vegetables crossing into South Texas – grossing about $2800 Chicago.

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Florida Citrus Disease Contributing to Fewer Citrus Loads this Season

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DSCN2885Florida citrus shipments continue to decline, with a disease known as citrus greening being the primary culprit, according the the latest USDA forecast. The  shipping estimate shows continuing declines in Florida citrus production, which includes grapefruit as well as oranges and tangerines.

In a Jan. 10 report, the USDA predicts the state’s loadings of oranges, grapefruit and tangerines will decline from  one to six percent.   All orange volume is now estimated at 115 million equivalent-cartons, down five percent from the December forecast and 14 percent less than last season.

Valencia shipments are off six percent non-valencia oranges — which include early and mid-seasons — declined four percent, with navels decreasing by 200,000 cartons to 1.9 million boxes.

White grapefruit loads dropped one percent from the previous month’s estimate to 4.5 million cartons with the larger-produced color grapefruit unchanged.

For tangerines, loadings dropped six percent with early season fallglo and sunburst tangerines accounting for the 200,000 carton decline.  Honey tangerines are seen as remaining unchanged at 1.6 million cartons. Tangelo production remains at 1 million cartons.

Citrus greening has been described  by one ag official as  “an unprecedented situation dealing with this disease and today’s crop estimate only emphasizes how important it is for research to uncover a solution.”

Though a majority of the state’s oranges ship to processed channels, nearly 70 percent of its navels, about half of its grapefruit and two-thirds of its tangerines ship fresh.

Though a majority of the state’s oranges ship to processed channels, nearly 70 percent of its navels, about half of its grapefruit and two-thirds of its tangerines ship fresh. 

Florida citrus, vegetables and strawberries – grossing about $2800 to New York City. 


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California Shipments of Oranges, Veggies and Strawberries

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Early California navel orange shipments have gotten off to a good start this season and expect to load around 93 million boxes before the season concludes.  This would be up from 83 millon cartons from the previous season.  Loadings have been steady and are expected to remain this way in the weeks ahead.

Something to keep an eye on is the restrictions California  is putting ictions on citrus fruit and plants in Tulare County after two recent detections of Asian citrus psyllid.  It is not a full quarantine, but if another psyllid is found — it would be the fourth detection.  This would trigger a two-year quarantine.  Current restrictions are in place for six months.

The psyllids, which can carry citrus greening disease, feed on citrus trees, sucking the sap and weakening them, but they can carry citrus greening, a bacterial disease.  The disease is no threat  to humans or animals, but it can stunt and even kill citrus trees.   The problem also has been detected in Florida and Texas.

Desert Shipments

In The California desert, as well as Yuma, AZ,  recent warm cauliflower and broccoli shipments  well above normal.  Loadings are usually brisk this time of year anyway as supplies to buyers for the Christmas holidays are ramping up.  A similar situation exist for various types of lettuce in the desert.


California is in between seasons now and strawberry shipments are light.  While the Watsonville area has pretty much finished, loadings are now coming out of Ventura and Orange counties.  Volume will remain light until after the first of the year.


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