Hurricane Hanna produces huge losses for Texas citrus growers

Citrus growers in south Texas deal with huge losses in the aftermath of Hurricane Hanna.

The orchards in Edinburg, Texas are largely dried out now after flooding as a result of Hurricane Hanna. They appear to be normal, but upon a closer look, much of the citrus is laying on the ground.

According to Dale Murden, the president of Texas Citrus Mutual, “Estimates right now, on the grapefruit is about 30 percent crop loss on the ground so far. Oranges seem to have come through it a little better. We don’t see as much, if any, fruit drop on the ground with oranges. It’s a tough thing to judge, counting fruit on the ground versus what you thought you had on the tree this early in the year.”

Murden says that this was shaping up to be a good year for citrus growers in south Texas. “You know the crop of us was shaping up to be a really pretty crop,” he states. “Pretty good size; the quality was looking good.”

Now the year that was suppose to bring about a high profit has turned into one that will have huge loss. “Right now, with a 30 percent loss, we’re plugging in about a $66 million dollar loss at this point,” he adds.

Often citrus that does not grow well can be turned into juice. However, Murden notes, “It’s not mature. This is too early in the season to be of any value, but typically once it falls on the ground, within a few days it rots anyway. So I guess the short answer is no. That is a complete loss.”

With COVID-19, field workers already have a lot to deal with; now, the aftermath of hurricane Hanna brings about whole new challenges.

Murden says his group has asked Texas Governor Greg Abbott to ask the USDA to designate the region a disaster. That is the first step in growers receiving government aid.

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