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Vice President of Sales
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Lone Star Citrus Growers is a vertically integrated grower, packer, marketer and shipper of world famous Texas red grapefruit and sweet, juicy oranges. Independently owned and operated, our state of art processing plant is located in Mission, Texas. ... more.
Assistant Sales Manager
Texas International Produce Association
TexaSweet Citrus Marketing , Inc.
United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program
Texas A&M University
Meet The Team | Lone Star Citrus
Lone Star's Bishop sees good season continuing for Texas citrus
"The season is going very well," Trent Bishop, vice president of sales for Lone Star Citrus Growers in Mission, TX, told The Produce News Jan. 13. "We've had a very good season so for and it looks like we are going to have a great January." Trent-Bishop-2009 Trent Bishop said sales of Texas grapefruit since the first week of the season have been strong and he believes the promotion and re-positioning of the fruit with retailers deserves some of the credit.Lone Star kicked off the season in late October and early November with several promotions touting its new Winter Sweetz label for its grapefruit. Lone Star switched to the label as the firm believed it is an apt description of the famous red grapefruit that Texas has been producing for decades. The firm said that the name quickly sums up both when it is produced and its flavor profile. Bishop said sales of grapefruit since the first week of the season have been strong and he believes the promotion and re-positioning of the fruit with retailers deserves some of the credit. As the deal moved into the new year, the Lone Star executive said the market price for both the Texas orange and Texas grapefruit were strong with grapefruit trading at about $14 f.o.b. and oranges even a bit better at $14-$16 per carton. Florida's problems with greening has greatly reduced its fresh grapefruit crop, which Bishop said is no doubt helping the Texas market. "I have a lot of good friends in Florida and in no way do I wish them ill will, but their problems are certainly helping us. We have more demand for our fruit from the East Coast then we usually do." Bishop said demand from international buyers is also strong but he was reluctant to say Florida's problems are the cause. "We have gotten more inquiries from export buyers this year, but we are selling to the same people that we always have." He described the Texas fruit as "gorgeous" and very high-quality. Bishop said the timing for this year's crop appears to be normal. The pre-season report for the crop noted that it would be down a bit this year because of the alternate bearing nature of the trees, and Bishop said harvested yields have met the early season expectations.
"We have had a very strong orange market," said Trent Bishop, vice president of sales for Lone Star Citrus Growers.
"We are in a demand-exceeds-supply situation." Speaking during the first week of November, he said the California Navel orange season was just getting under way so he expected the orange price to drop a bit, but not too far. He noted that the f.o.b. market on Nov. 3 was in the $20s with many orders piling up despite California's entry into the market. The overall grapefruit market wasn't quite as strong, but it was still very good with the larger sizes definitely in a demand-exceeds-supply situation. In early November, Bishop said the famed Texas red grapefruit was peaking on the 40 to 48 sizes with those SKUs seeing a market in the $12-$14 range. Larger fruit, defined as 36 size and larger, was rare indeed and the market was in the neighborhood of $26 per carton. While the fruit will continue to size as the season progresses, Bishop expects to continue to receive a significant premium for the larger fruit through much of November. He said Florida - a main grapefruit competitor - "doesn't appear to have a lot of big fruit hanging on the trees. I don't see any factors that are going to change this market for a while." He explained that the mid- to late October rain that caused Texas flooding, especially in the Houston and Dallas areas, did drop significant rain in the Rio Grande Valley as well. But he noted that it was not a tree- or fruit-damaging rain. "The weather has interrupted the harvest schedule so it has been a challenge to fill orders, but there has been no lasting impact." He said for a tree to be impacted negatively, it would have to be in standing water for an extended period. In each of the rainstorms, most groves in south Texas received a manageable amount of rain and the groves were able to dry out within a couple of days. Bishop, however, said the rain will have a positive impact on the sizing of the fruit. "Usually in about four to five weeks (after a significant amount of rain) we will start to see the sizing." Bishop said another positive as Texas moves into the holiday season is interest from foreign buyers. While Japan and other Asian buyers have traditionally imported some Texas fruit each season, Europe has been the domain of Florida for the most part. "Within the last 24 hours I have gotten several inquiries from both Japan and Europe," Bishop said. "It looks like within a couple of weeks we will be shipping to both of those places." The added inquiries are most likely a result of Florida having one of its smaller citrus crops in the last 50 years because of the citrus greening issue. Bishop said that Lone Star's grapefruit rebranding effort this year was very well received at the Produce Marketing Association convention in Atlanta in October. "The reception was very positive," he said.
"We have continued to plant every year since we opened up in 2007," said Trent Bishop, vice president of sales for Lone Star Citrus Growers in Mission, TX.
He said there is still plenty of good citrus land available in the valley and his firm is going to continue to plant for the foreseeable future. He noted that currently the biggest impediment to increased plantings is that there is not enough nursery stock available to keep up with demand. While increased urbanization does put an upper end limit on how large the agricultural sector can grow, Erickson agreed with Bishop that there is still plenty of good land left for increased plantings of citrus and other crops. Bishop said it is difficult to gauge the level of growth with complete accuracy because there is still some older acreage coming out of production. Just because of the normal cycle of production on trees, Bishop said in mid-September that the grapefruit crop might be down just a bit this year, but the groves did receive adequate water for the first time in several years and sizing may improve as the fruit matures. Shipping was expected to begin by the first full week of October and continue until April. It is typically the spring heat that brings an end to the season. Bishop said citrus growers have been relatively happy with the lack of progress of the citrus greening disease. "We learned from Florida and worked hard to get out in front of it," he said. The disease, which is carried by the Asian Citrus Psyllid, has delivered a very powerful blow to Florida citrus growers. Bishop said maybe it is the early effort of Texas or the different climatic and environmental conditions, but the psyllid and the disease seem to be held in check currently.
T.J. Flowers | Lone Star Citrus
Since joining forces with Jud Flowers and Trent Bishop to create Lone Star Citrus Growers in 2007, he has added operations management and production management to that list of experience.