Drought in Mexico could have severe effects on Texas citrus

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Drought in Mexico could have severe effects on Texas citrus

A 1994 water treaty between the U.S. and Mexico is causing major issues due to severe drought. The agreement requires Mexico to send 1.75 million acre-feet of water from the Rio Grande to the U.S. over a five-year cycle.

Currently, in year four of the cycle, Mexico has sent only about 30% of its expected deliveries, the lowest amount at this point of any four- or five-year cycle since 1992, according to data from the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), which oversees the treaty.

Mexico’s national water authority, Conagua, says severe drought has gotten worse and the country is facing the worst drought conditions since 2011.

The Texas citrus industry, the largest in the U.S. after California and Florida, is “highly dependent on water from Mexico," according to Dale Murden, president of Texas Citrus Mutual.

“You can’t count completely on rainfall. It’s nice when it happens, but you need to control the water on the tree,” he said.

The Texas citrus industry is almost completely located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, with most of the acreage in Hidalgo County and the remainder in Cameron and Willacy counties.

Despite challenges, Texans remain optimistic

Early this year, AgriLife reported that South Texas citrus was set to have a comeback. 

Juan Anciso, PhD Agrilife Extension vegetable specialist from Texas A&M, said the 2023-24 season is off to a good start and that there may be as much as a 20% increase over the last year’s production for oranges and grapefruit. 

Murden also added, “Citrus production is up, the current fruit quality is excellent, and prices have remained high, all of which are good for the producer.”

He showed his optimism, indicating that over the years, there have been issues with the weather, irrigation water and other challenges to the citrus industry, “but in production agriculture, you’ve got to be optimistic.

Related article:

Texas citrus starts in early October

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