DNE World Fruit Sales in Ft. Pierce, FL, particularly welcomed news from a Jan.
18 U.S. Department of Agriculture special report on this winter's freezing
weather in Florida and its minimal impact on the state's citrus crop, especially
grapefruit, which came out virtually unscathed. That is because DNE is one of
the state's premier grapefruit producers, packing product under the world-
renowned "Ocean Spray" label.
DNE's Ocean Spray deal will continue for the next few months, according to
Kevin Swords, Florida citrus sales manager. "Grapefruit is at its peak eating
quality; that's where we put those 'Ocean Spray' labels to it, and everybody
recognizes that and can expect good eating fruit," he said in mid-January.
DNE also packs Valencias for Ocean Spray; that deal will start the third week
of February and continue through May, Mr. Swords said.
Honey tangerines are also on deck now "and will be through mid-March," he
said. "And as far as juice oranges go, we're still in the early to mid varieties
and expect to start Valencias the third week of February."
There is also still time to get in on DNE's short window for Temple oranges.
Harvesting started in mid-January "and with us it's only a fou-r or five-week
deal, but it takes us through most of February," Mr. Swords said.
Some unexpected good news has come in that mid-season orange varieties
seem to be sizing up, Mr. Swords said. Honey tangerines across the state are
actually larger than normal for some reason, "and the juice oranges we're in
now seem to have sized up a bit," he said. "The Honey tangerines are a size
or two larger than the Sunburst were, which is very welcomed."
Grapefruit, though, is "still another story," he said. "The way we had to spot-
pick early -- and a lot of groves have been spot picked twice -- with all the
cold, we do not expect a surplus of large grapefruit out there. We're still
having to deal with smaller fruit. It might size up a little bit, a size or so, but
it's still relatively small, so we'll be promoting the smaller sizes whether in
bags or bulk. Most people have spot-picked their groves, and at this point,
your choices are very limited."
The bottom line is, he concluded, "Yes cold weather hit us, yes there's some
sporadic damage, but by no means is Florida done for the season or unable to
promote. Don't walk away from Florida because you think the cold did us in.
And just a reminder -- February is National Grapefruit Month, so we'll take all
ads we can get. And with Valencias being one of the most popular juice
orange varieties, we can promote anytime there."