Effects of winter storm push back RGV farmer’s citrus harvest

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Months have passed since the historic winter storm in February. A local citrus farmer said he and his harvest are still feeling the impact of the freeze, with harvest being pushed back a few months.

Citrus farmer and President of Texas Citrus Mutual, Dale Murden said he lost a vast majority of his crop during the winter storm.

“So it really devastated two different crops. The remaining crop of that time was lost because the majority of that fruit fell on the ground. Then the next crop that we’re trying to grow now you know it really cut the yields by as much as 70% or better,” said Murden.

Murden said because of the loss of the crops, their harvest was pushed back from September to November.

“So you obviously want to wait as long as you can for the premium fruit to get into that what we’d like to call the holiday market,” said Murden.

They hoped to use the harvest money to restore their citrus trees but with a decrease in demand, he said they’re doing the best they can in the meantime.

We’re just continuing regular growth care work, trying to keep the water on it, trying to keep the bugs at bay, and just keep up with our maintenance program the best we can.” Murden adds, “Labor is a very big concern; can we get the crews in that we need to harvest.”

Murden said he knows they probably won’t make a profit this year partially because of the disastrous weather. 

“To hurricanes, back to drought and then heavy rainfalls in the July and August time frames for the last two years and then a freeze; it’s a lot to deal with but looking at that picture behind me there it gives you room for optimism,” said Murden.

The two rows of citrus trees that are on his farm he said should be a symbol that farmers don’t give up easily.

“Hope it’s a good word and the farmers and ranchers we live on a lot of hope you can’t control mother nature, but you do the best you can to pick up and move forward,” said Murden.

Murden said he hopes next year’s harvest will make up the difference in loss and put them back in good shape. 

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