Total U.S. grapefruit harvest is forecast down 3 percent in 2012/13, with production losses from Florida and California. Forecast grapefruit production is down 5 percent with declines for both colored and white varieties.

Grapefruit production in Texas has gained ground with production at 211,000 tons, a 10-percent increase from last season’s drought stricken crop. The expected larger crop is evident in the increased shipping volumes through late November, up 7 percent, according to the report. Overall quality is reported as excellent, with less cosmetic deficiencies, but sizes are smaller due to the dry conditions during crop development. Recent rains have aided in increasing fruit size, so late-season fruit should size up better than fruit harvested earlier this season.

The high quality of Texas grapefruit should aid in fresh market supplies this year. The better quality and tighter supplies are felt in the higher grower prices so far this season.

While California is forecast to reduce production by9 percent this season to 160,000 tons, overall Texas and California account for 17 percent and 13 percent of total production, respectively.

In Florida, the grapefruit crop is down this season due to a decline in acreage (down 2 percent from 2011/12) and smaller fruit size. Fruit sizes are expected smaller with more grapefruit falling in the 63’s or more per bushel size range this season due to a larger fruit set.

Retail fresh fruit prices improve

After falling below year ago levels this summer, the U.S. consumer price index for fresh fruit in October 2012 advanced to 341.7, slightly improved from the previous month and 2 percent above the October 2011 CPI. Year-to-year price gains in grapefruits, lemons, red delicious apples, and Thompson seedless grapes at the retail level led to the higher CPI and, although October price gains for grapefruits and Thompson seedless grapes range from 12 to 13 percent from a year ago, price declines for navel oranges, bananas, and strawberries moderated the overall boost in the October CPI.

Retail prices have increased for grapefruit over the same time last year. Similar to the situation with grower prices, lower fresh production out of California and higher quality grapefruit from Texas have pushed prices up. Texas grapefruit have better appearance, due to less wind scarring and pest damage. According to the Fruit and Tree Nut report, a dryer growing season has resulted in fruit that are smaller but sweet. Navel orange prices are down as the 2011/12 marketing year comes to a close.

Higher fresh orange imports over the summer when domestic production was low has brought prices down. As the 2012/13 season gets underway, prices through the early spring should remain close to last season prices with a higher production of California navels and as sizes are so far smaller than last year.