Imported Chilean blueberries begin arriving this month. Meanwhile, citrus imports from Mexico and Brazil are expected to fill a void of available Florida citrus this season.
Chilean blueberry production is down slightly from last season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean fewer berries arriving by boat at U.S. ports. The South American country is the largest producer of blueberries in the Southern Hemisphere, exporting a total of 103,000 tons in 2016-17. Of that amount, 65.7 percent, or 67,707 ton was exported to North America, which is the largest global market of Chilean “blues.”
For the 2017-18 shipping season, Chile’s fresh export volume is predicted to be at 101,700 tons.
Chilean blueberry shipments should be back on schedule this year, with the peak season running from mid-December through February. The country had an unusally early start in 2016.
Shipments on ocean vessels should begin in late November, and ramping up in December.
Early arrivals are shipped by air because of the lack of fruit volume to fill the large shipping containers used by ocean-going vessels.
The majority of oranges imported to Florida arrive from Brazil and Mexico, and that total volume is projected to surpass what is grown in the hurricane-damaged Sunshine State this season.
Last season, Brazil has accounted for 46 percent of the state’s orange imports, followed by 44 percent from Mexico. Costa Rica and Belize are among the other countries supplying citrus. Most grapefruit imported into Florida comes from California and Texas.
The Florida Citrus Commission has approved an adjusted $17.8 million budget that takes into account an increase in imports that will help cover crops lost in September to Hurricane Irma.
The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has projected a preliminary $2.5 billion impact to Florida’s agriculture industry from Irma, with estimated losses to the citrus industry at $761 million.
Even before Irma, the industry had suffered steady declines in production because of deadly citrus-greening disease.
The Florida Department of Citrus projects its revenue will come from nearly 59.3 million boxes of Florida citrus and 65 million boxes of imports.
Oranges will account for 53.7 million of the taxed boxes from Florida and 63.95 million of the imported boxes.
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Florida citrus losses are reported the worst in 75 years between Hurricane Irma and citrus greening, plus nearly two dozen Florida counties are declared disaster areas.
by Malena Carollo, Tampa Bay Times
After a decade of fighting a losing battle against a tree-killing disease (citrus greening) and declining yields, growers thought this year’s abundant crop promised a turnaround. Then, just weeks before harvest, Hurricane Irma hit.
“This was a real punch in the face,” said Andrew Meadows, spokesperson for citrus trade organization Florida Citrus Mutual.
Overcome by almost $800 million in losses from the hurricane, the state’s citrus industry is suddenly facing its lowest orange yield in 75 years, far worse than forecasts expected just a couple of months ago.
Although damage is still being assessed, the latest numbers released by the state put expected losses at roughly $761 million. Early estimates suggest that this year’s crop will be the single lowest yield since 1942.
To read the rest of the story, please go to: Tampa Bay Times
19 Florida Counties Declared Disaster Areas
A natural disaster declaration for 19 Florida counties issued by the USDA acknowledges widespread damage by Hurricane Irma.
As a result of the declaration farmers and ranchers in those areas are able to seek support, including emergency loans, from the Farm Service Agency, according to a news release.
“I thank U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for taking action to support Florida’s farmers and ranchers still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Irma, Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam said in the release. Our preliminary estimates peg the total damage at more than $2.5 billion, but it’s important to recognize that the damage is still unfolding.
“The disaster declaration provides much needed support, and I will continue working with (Florida Gov. Rick Scott) and our leaders in Washington to get Florida agriculture the relief it needs to rebuild,” Putnam said.
The USDA released its first citrus crop estimate recently, but industry members say the department grossly understated the extent of the damage from Irma.
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Increased shipments from Mexico with ocean carrier World Direct Shipping is coming to Port Manatee in Central Florida with addition of another weekly stop to the port. At the same time, damage estimates to Florida produce are coming from the state.
World Direct Shipping has announced the increase in service to the port by the company, which was first established in 2014. Ships depart from the north-central part of Veracruz, from Port Tuxpan, in a service starting January 12th.
“We couldn’t be happier with how the initial service has thrived, with our 2 ½-day transit time offering the fastest short-sea connection between Mexico and the U.S. Southeast, Northeast and Midwest for refrigerated produce and other cargos,” said Carlos Diaz, director of Palmetto, Fla.-based World Direct Shipping, in a news release.
The new service complements the other World Direct Shipping arrival at the port, starting from Coatzacoalcos, Diaz said. Tuxpan is the closest commercial port to Mexico City, providing for more opportunities for fruit exports.
The weekly schedules call for Friday departures and Monday arrivals for the new service. Currently, ships leave Coatzacoalcos on Saturday and arrive at Port Manatee on Tuesdays.
Florida vs. Hurricane Irma
While Florida isn’t exactly a mecca for produce loads during the fall and winter, there are going to be less opportunities than ever in the coming months as the state works to recover from the damages resulting from Hurricane Irma.
The early assessment of total damages to agricultural production in the state is $2.5 billion.
Over 420,000 acres of citrus production were hit, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Losses were heaviest in Collier and Hendry counties, which estimated losses at $2,500 an acre for about 94,000 acres. Eleven other counties projected losses of $1,750 per acre for about 254,000 acres, and Polk and Martin counties estimated damages at $1,100 per acre for about 72,000 acres.
Many trees were just a few weeks from harvest when the storm hit.
Along with fruit loss and infrastructure damage, growers are worried over trees dying due to flooding, which is not included in this initial estimate.
Florida citrus sales still hover near $1 billion, despite the downturn in the last decade due to citrus greening disease.
Damage to the other fruit and vegetable crops in Florida, were found on over 163,000 acres.
Because the planting season was just beginning for most vegetables, the crop losses will result in shorter seasons, market distortions and lower yields because of the storm diluting the pesticides that had been applied to fields.
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While Salinas Valley veggie shipments have been hindered due to weather related issues, it may pale in comparison to Florida oranges after Hurricane Irma. Also, imported Japanese persimmons to be become a reality.
Salinas Valley vegetable shipments leading up to Labor Day were paired back because of hot weather and the effects are still being felt nearly two weeks later. When the temperature surpasses 90 degrees F. it becomes to hot for field workers, not to mention quality issues come into focus. The result has been lighter-than-normal loadings of leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower. Caution is urged when loading, as produce haulers should look for potential heat related quality problems.
Florida Citrus vs. Irma
The wrath of Hurricane Irma is bound to be bad news for Florida citrus, especially orange that already is reeling from declining production due to citrus greening. Florida accounts for 56 percent of U.S. citrus production and is the number one state for oranges, although the vast majority goes for processing. Still, we’re talking about Florida’s total production for oranges in 2015 was valued at $1.17 billion.
Other top produce crops threatened by Irma are tomatoes, and green beans, although neither are in peak season. Severe citrus crop losses seen for product exposed to hurricane force winds exceeding 85 mph.
by USDA APHIS
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is publishing a final rule allowing the importation of fresh persimmon with calyxes (a plant part protecting the flower) from Japan.
APHIS scientists prepared a pest risk analysis and determined that commercial shipments of persimmons with calyxes produced under a systems approach can safely be imported into the continental United States. The systems approach includes requirements for packing house registration, orchard monitoring and control of pests, fruit culling, biometric sampling, a phytosanitary certificate with additional declaration, port of entry inspection and traceback. These measures will protect our country against the introduction of plant pests.
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