Recent Storms Had Little Effect On States Citrus Crop

Wayne J. Bourgeois, Vaughn, James A., Smith, Walton R., Morgan, Johnny W.  |  4/19/2005 10:29:10 PM

News Release Distributed 10/22/04

The violent storms of the past two months devastated Florida’s citrus crop, but Louisiana hasn’t seen that sort of damage so far this year, according to Dr. Wayne Bourgeois, resident coordinator for the LSU AgCenter’s Citrus Research Station near Port Sulphur.

"The damage that we’ve seen in the area is not much more than on a normal year. We’ve had some wind, but most of our damage has been from excess rain," Bourgeois said, adding, "With excessive rain the peel of the fruit can’t grow fast enough for the increased water, and this has caused some splitting of fruit."

Bourgeois said the only hurricane to come near the area this year –Ivan – had little impact on the Citrus Research Station and the citrus-growing area of the state.

"With 1.05 inches of rain and maximum winds of 60 miles per hour recorded, there was minimal crop damage," he explained.

Speaking to those who attended a field day at the LSU AgCenter research station this week (Oct. 20), Bourgeois said overall there seems to be a good crop on the trees. He said satsumas are starting to come in now, and that the satsuma harvest will reach its peak around Christmas.

LSU AgCenter county agent Alan Vaughn of Plaquemines Parish also reported that grant money from the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry is being used to help raise awareness about citrus grown in the state and to let consumers know when Louisiana citrus is available.

According to Vaughn, in addition to the satsumas, navel oranges also will be in good supply and will be harvested in large numbers after Thanksgiving.

Statewide, citrus is grown in 15 parishes on more than 1,300 acres, according to figures from the LSU AgCenter, which show the gross farm value of Louisiana citrus crops last year was nearly $8 million.

Vaughn said most of the state’s 800 citrus growers have operations with only about 1 acre to 3 acres. Their crops include satsumas, grapefruit, navel oranges, lemons and kumquats.

Other topics covered during the field day included citrus pests, how growers can make fruit more orange in color and calibrating spray equipment used with citrus.

A highlight of the field day was an update on research concerning Formosan subterranean termites that also is being conducted at the station.

Dr. Ramsey Smith, an LSU AgCenter professor of wood science and technology who works in its Louisiana Forest Products Development Center, said this research is unique because it involves work both in his lab on campus in Baton Rouge as well as a research plot "in the wild" at the Citrus Research Station.

"What we’re doing is looking at the effects termites have on different types of wood products," Smith said, adding that the research is being conducted at the Citrus Station because Formosan termites already existed in that area.

"We’ve been working diligently for the past two years, and we’re at a point right now where new products are coming on the market and we can turn out results in some cases in two years rather than in five years like we used to," Smith said of the research.

Smith explained that Formosan subterranean termites are not native to the area but are believed to have been brought into the area by shipping crates used to return equipment after World War II.

The LSU AgCenter professor said Formosan termites, unlike the native species, will live in trees. "They use a tree as a base, build their carton nest, then go out into our homes and other areas. They have greatly affected the trees in New Orleans."

Smith also said these termites can eat through PVC piping, rubber gaskets and even thin sheets of metal. "Where the native termite colony is about 400,000, the Formosans average about 2 million, and there is a suspected colony in Lake Charles with approximately 70 million individuals."

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Contacts:
Wayne Bourgeois at 985-564-2467 or wbourgeois@agcenter.lsu.edu
Alan Vaughn at (985) 564-2467 or avaughn@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Ramsey Smith at (225) 578-4131 or wsmith@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:   
Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

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