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Western Citrus Growers Won't Fill Gap From Eastern Storms
The U.S. grows lemons in California, Arizona, Florida and Texas. But they are not all used for the same purpose. After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, harvests in Texas and Florida are threatened, and supply is needed from elsewhere.
Arizona and California fruit are known in the industry as the “pretty stuff,” the produce you buy whole, as is, to eat as fresh from the store.
Florida and Texas citrus are mostly used for juice.
Harold Edwards is CEO of Limoneira, the nation’s largest lemon supplier, and says not everyone realized the difference in fruit when the storms hit.
“If you look at the behavior of our stock right before our earnings announcement, you saw a really big run-up in the value of the stock. There were people that were speculating that what was going on in Florida, what was going on in Texas, that now California would be able to take its production into what was normally covered by those supply points,” Edwards said.
Limoneira grows about 20 percent of its lemons in Arizona. The bulk of its supply comes from California and then Chile during the winter. Production is up 14 percent over this time last year.