What a year it has been so far! Normally, at this time of year we are reflecting on the previous peach season while looking forward to the next citrus season. With that, despite various challenges in growing conditions, we can be confident that the following season will be successful. As you are likely aware, our peach season did not follow that pattern.
Will McGehee, Marketing Director for the Georgia Peach Council, has said 2017 ranked in the top 5 worst peach crops in recent history.
“When you go back across time,” he stated, “you’ve got 1955, we lost pretty much the entire peach crop. 1975 and we had about 3% of a peach crop. 1996, 8%, 2007 was brutal again. And now this year so, it’s- it’s going to rank in the top five, top five worst in the last 50 years.”
We vividly remember 2006 and 1996, as it meant that we couldn't provide any peaches to our customers. This year was different though, as Pearson Farm sent most of their peaches north and then some.
Of course, after weathering this year's peach season, our attention turned to citrus. Over the last decade, the difficulties for our citrus growers have ranged from greening disease and citrus canker, to poor weather conditions. These and other factors have made growing citrus in Florida extremely difficult.
So now we head into this season. There had been much anticipation for what looked to be the best harvest in many years. In fact, the initial estimates showed that Florida would harvest more citrus then last year, possibly by 10%. In addition, weather conditions had moderated and folks in the citrus industry were excited by the quality of fruit that was developing. Also, more and more growers are feeling optimistic that all of the efforts being made to counteract greening are finally beginning to work.
We followed the news closely. Everyone held their breath as hurricane season began, leaving behind devastation. It was truly heartbreaking to see the disastrous effects of Hurricanes Maria, Harvey, and Irma. In Florida, Hurricane Irma caused the most damage and was devastating to the citrus industry. Most farmers and packers were looking forward to a positive year, only to face another blow.
Despite all this, the entire citrus crop was not lost. Some estimates put the loss of the citrus crop at 35-40%. We will see some effects of this loss. For instance, we may see smaller grapefruit than we would have in a normal year. Larger grapefruit were more easily blown off of the trees. However, we will still have grapefruit this winter. While we are realistic about the effects of Hurricane Irma, we are very positive about this year's crop. While we will not have as large a crop, the overall quality is expected to have greatly improved over recent years. This means that we anticipate both a supply for all of our visits this season, and really delicious fruit!
We're really excited for this citrus season for a couple more reasons. First, this season marks the return of Temple oranges for the first time on our truck routes in over a decade. If you've never tried a Temple orange, you're in for a real treat. Once the most popular orange in Florida, it is a true citrus connoisseur’s orange. Many of our long time customers will recall that our Temple oranges were a staple of our winter citrus visits. We will be making visits to most of our locations in February with Temple oranges.
Secondly, as the struggles in the citrus state have persisted, we felt compelled to investigate other sources of citrus. What we found was amazing.
This season we will be incorporating a sampling of other citrus varieties that we love and want to share with you. Make sure you come out to the truck to see what we have as this will help shape our product lineup for future seasons. Make sure you visit our Facebook page where we’ll update you with each new product, when they’ll be on the truck, and which location they’ll be at.
And of course, we will be bringing our amazing Georgia pecans with our citrus. There is a lot to look forward to and we are truly excited to get this citrus season underway. We'll see you at the truck!