Israel in race to catch up last year's orange exports Shamoutis get off to slow start A combination of wet weather and dock strikes has meant that shipments of Jaffa Shamouti oranges have fallen well behind export estimates, compounding delays caused by a decision to leave fruit longer on the trees. By early February, 1.1m cartons had arrived ­ just two- thirds of the tonnage received by the same time last season. However, supplies are now building, according to the Citrus Marketing Board. "Our season is, at last, in full swing with sizes looking relatively large due to the rain," said general manager Mena Davidson. While Israel's most famous variety is now racing to make up lost ground, citrus shipments as a whole are performing well at only a percentage point less than in 1999. Sweetie, the greenskinned grapefruit hybrid, is 12% ahead, which has partly offset a reduction in demand for Marsh seedless. However, there are signs that heavy white grapefruit crops are still to come. While there's plenty of fruit left in the groves, competition between fresh and processed markets should improve growers' returns after two lean years. Sunrise pigmented grapefruit is still moving well, despite having to struggle against European currency values, but among easy peelers the 30,000 tonne Suntina crop may have passed its export peak. Minneola has started well, despite some reports of fruit being on the sharpish side, with sales up 51% so far, reaching 1,250,000 cartons. Fruit quality is likely to improve with the weather. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}