PRIMERA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The pandemic has caused global supply chain issues that are causing prices to increase everywhere, including for fertilizer – a key part of growing citrus.

Citrus growers in the Rio Grande Valley lost an estimated 300 million dollars from the winter freeze last year. Texas A&M Agrilife estimated that fertilizer prices would increase by 80 percent this year, but citrus growers are experiencing an even higher increase.

“Growers here, at least citrus growers, are experiencing anywhere from a 139 percent to a 330 percent increase on nitrogen fertilizer,” said Dale Murden, a citrus grower in the Rio Grande Valley and the president of Texas Citrus Mutual.

Murden explained that a lot of fertilizer used by citrus growers is imported into the U.S., which means global supply chain issues are causing fertilizer prices to increase. With COVID still affecting production, that’s not the only issue growers are facing.

“A lot of countries that are banning exports on fertilizer to keep for themselves,” Murden said. “China is a good example. They’re just holding back on any exports until they make sure they have met their needs.”

Fertilizer is necessary for growing citrus crops throughout the entire lifespan of the trees, which takes years to produce fruit.

Fertilizer makes up around 25% of the cost of raising grapefruit.

“Especially with us now in the age of greening, the HLB disease,” Murden said. “We’ve come to understand that you’ve got to have healthy trees and healthy roots. So, our fertilizer inputs are actually on the increase.”

These skyrocketing prices come on the heels of the disastrous February 2021 winter freeze that essentially ruined two citrus crops.

“I guess it was a miracle we had a crop at all considering the severity of the freeze. About 30 percent of a normal crop. So, no way to really recover your expenses on the rehab of the freeze,” Murden said.