Citrus Farmers Roll Back Harvests Due to Weather

2 years 9 months 2 weeks ago Wednesday, December 06 2017 Dec 6, 2017 December 06, 2017 5:05 PM December 06, 2017 in News

WESLACO - A Rio Grande Valley citrus grower was not harvesting a large part of his crops Wednesday. He said the weather was a setback. 

Florida's citrus industry has seen a major drop in production this year due to Hurricane Irma and the spread of diseases to its fruit. This allows Texas citrus growers to make a bigger profit.

Mission citrus grower Trent Bishop has spent over 10 years in the citrus business. He said this has been the best year he has seen in our state yet.

"The market is so strong right now. With the situation that's going on in Florida, you can only imagine that we've taken about 40 percent out of the domestic supply chain," he said.

But he will lose profit because of the rain Wednesday.  It is making him roll back his harvest of about 25 percent of his crops. He is worried his company's trucks might get stuck in the mud. So he's decided to use forklifts on tracks in the fields.

Bishop is also cautious with rainy conditions because it could spread diseases, destroying his crops.

"There's a couple different things we worry about. Canker, greening. They're both here," adds Bishop.

He notes certain citrus fruit, when wet, can be bruised if not handled with care.

"We certainly won't be harvesting oranges today because any time the weather is wet or the ground is wet, it will negatively affect our oranges with oil spotting. Oranges tend to react negatively to the weather," he noted.

Bishop is optimistic profit lost Wednesday will be made up in future days by doubling up crews. 

Dr. John DaGraca of the Texas A&M Kingsville Citrus Center said it is a good thing Bishop is not harvesting as much. He said those handling wet fruit can pass disease by spreading bacteria on their hands.

"There will be fungal spores floating around and they can gain easy access into the fruit and cause a rot," said DaGraca,

DaGraca added Texas citrus growers have not dealt with many diseases to their crops yet. He said they have to be cautious to avoid spreading bacteria, it can destroy their profits.

DaGraca added Wednesday's cooler temperatures are actually good for citrus crops. He noted it adds color to the fruit. He said full-colored fruits can be boxed and sold as soon as they are picked.

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