Texas citrus producers prepare for next harvest amid COVID-19

Despite COVID-19, it feels like business as usual out on the groves in Rio Grande Valley, Texas as the state prepares for its next citrus harvest.

The last harvest wrapped up in April and now it is time to get ready for the fall.

“This time of year, we’re just into regular cultural practices-- grove care, growing the fruit for next crop that comes off in October, we’re irrigating, spraying. It’s kind of what you see here, we’re looking for bugs and things like that,” said Texas Citrus Mutual President Dale Murden.

Last season, citrus workers had to learn about social distancing or wearing a mask. There is a distance between the trees in the grove, and that is good news because of all the COVID-19 guidelines that were set in place in recent months.

“You can see in this grove, we’re about 25 feet from this tree to that tree. So, taking your workers and the great field employees that we have, you try to keep them apart always, and do the best you can,” Murden said. “The truth of the matter is, there is probably no better place to be than outdoors like this, rather than confined in a building.”

There is far more uncertainty about the future this year as opposed to recent years. With much of the food service industry shut down, it looks like the markets could be hurting in the coming months.

“Very unpredictable,” Murden said. “You know, I would think, in the case of citrus, high in Vitamin C. It’s going to be a popular thing to have; having said that, you just never know.”