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USDA predicts 50 million boxes of oranges; 4.65 million boxes of grapefruit

BARTOW – As the Florida Citrus industry seeks consideration for federal emergency funding, a USDA forecast Thursday confirmed a continuing decline in production due to Hurricane Irma’s impact on this season’s crop.

The report predicts Florida Orange production for 2017-18 at 50 million boxes of oranges, a 27 percent decrease over last season. Florida Grapefruit is expected to produce 4.65 million boxes, a decrease of 40 percent.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be the last decrease we see. Hurricane Irma had widespread impact on our industry and growers are still trying to pick up the pieces. High winds and flooding rains damaged already weakened trees making it more difficult to hold on to the fruit that’s left,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. “Luckily, Florida Citrus growers are a resilient group of hardworking individuals and I know they’ll find a way to carry on like they always do.”

Florida growers reported 30 to 70 percent crop loss after Hurricane Irma’s landfall on September 10, with the southwest region of the state receiving the most damage. The hurricane uprooted trees and left many groves sitting in standing water for up to three weeks, potentially damaging the root systems.

In October, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that Florida Citrus sustained more than $760 million in damages due to Hurricane Irma. Those numbers are expected to grow as the season continues.

About the Florida Department of Citrus

The Florida Department of Citrus is an executive agency of Florida government charged with the marketing, research and regulation of the Florida citrus industry.  Its activities are funded by a tax paid by growers on each box of citrus that moves through commercial channels.  The industry employs 45,000 people, provides an annual economic impact of $8.6 billion to the state, and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues that help support Florida’s schools, roads and health care services. For more information about the Florida Department of Citrus, please visit FloridaCitrus.org.