It's November and  the orange blossom smells of spring and summer are beginning to bring forth the fruits we anticipate all year long in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Sweet Texas


Citrus season is here and oranges and grapefruits of all varieties are beginning to pop up at roadside stands and  local grocery stores. Though it is early in the season, it is looking to be a very promising one for the Texas Citrus industry. The upper valley has received plenty of rainfall and there seems to be less of an insect problem this year.  According to a local orchard manager the overall quality of the fruit and their size put the crop at the top of the citrus ladder.


In essence, the Texas Citrus season is off to a sweet start with favorable summer and early fall temperatures as well as consistent late summer rainfalls and good grove maintenance providing growers and shippers with a bright outlook for a successful season. Quality and sizing is up from last year's crop which means more variety for retailers and consumers. Early brix tests show high levels for both oranges and grapefruit which is a great indication of quality so early in the season. Fruit has also shaped up nicely with minimal sheep nosing and minimal pest damage. Most Texas shippers started shipping their first loads of oranges about two weeks ago, while grapefruit shipments began in the last week.


The Texas' citrus industry also stands to profit a little more than usual because of the horrific hurricane seasons that have hit Florida in the last two decades. The first big hit was Hurricane Wilma as the season was about to open. Florida normally produces over 240 million boxes per year and they were expecting 190 million the year Wilma hit. Early estimates indicated Wilma destroyed 15% of the Florida orange crop and 40% of the grapefruit crop as a result.


Worse though, were other hurricanes, drought, and most of all a devastating citrus disease known as Citrus Greening Disease, spread by the Asian psyllid (moth) that arrived in the early 1990s.


Because of the decline in availability of produce nation wide as a result, U.S. consumers experienced not only rigid price increases but shortages of fresh citrus as a result. Since the mid-90s, Texas has also reported the disease, including growers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. But because of better control efforts, damages and loss of trees and fruit have not been as great so far.


In spite of continuing challenges, Valley citrus remains a favorite of consumers, especially for winter visitors that flock to the warm-climate area every winter. Just ask any native Texan who has lived elsewhere and had to live through a holiday with no ruby red grapefruit, or ask any winter Texan who comes to the Valley each winter to patronize their favorite Texas orchard and they'll tell you every sweet delectable bite or drop of orange juice is worth the price and the trip to get it.


A word of advice, because of the nationwide shortage of citrus again this season, if you are planning to send boxes for Christmas, order early.


The season begins as early as late October and if we're really lucky it will last as long as mid-April. Millions of cartons of Texas fruit will be shipped to market this year, the sweetest fruit you'll ever taste. Texas ranks just behind California and Florida as the largest supplier of oranges, and the Texas Ruby Red grapefruit is known far and wide for its tender meat and sugary flavor. Trust me if you have never been a grapefruit fan you will change your mind after picking a ruby red right off the tree and eating  it.


Check out some of these Rio Grande Valley Growers for orchard tours and picking days and times.


Coastal Fruit Company

P. O. Box 1298

Mercedes, Tx. 78570


Fax: 956/565-1587


Jose I Sanchez

Marvin Schwarz



Heald's Valley Farms, Ltd.

6715 West Monte Cristo Road

Edinburg, Tx. 78539

956/380-6211 (LD)

Fax: 956/380-1063



Heald's Valley Farms, Ltd.

Mission Shippers, Ltd.

721 Walsh Avenue

Mission, Tx. 78573-0459


Fax: 956/581-1130


Trent Bishop

T. J. Flowers

John Hausman



South Tex Organics, L.L.C.,

P.O Box 172

Mission, Tx. 78573


Fax: 956/581-1040

Sales: Dennis Holbrook

Contact: Dennis Holbrook



Rio Queen Citrus, Inc.

4012 E. Goodwin Road

Mission, Tx. 78574


Fax: 956/585-0258



Rio Queen Citrus, Inc.

Interstate Fruit & Veg. Co.

P. O. Box 547

Donna, Tx. 78537


Fax: 956/464-2295


Contact: Todd Jones


Thompson Rio Pride

2823 S. Pleasantview Dr.

Weslaco, Tx 78596



Fax: 956/968-3595



Contact: Donald E. Thompson