First forecast of the season projects 80 million boxes of Florida Oranges

The estimate marks yet another significant decline in Florida’s citrus production

BARTOW, Fla. – In its first forecast of the 2015-16 season, the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected another significant decline in Florida’s citrus production.

The report predicts a 17 percent drop in the state’s orange production, to 80 million boxes, with substantial drops expected for grapefruit and other varieties as well.

According to Shannon Shepp, interim executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, the magnitude of the projected decline was somewhat surprising, but the dynamics of the state’s signature agricultural commodity remain the same: “We know that greening has taken a massive toll on our growers. We know that there are fewer trees in the ground than there have been, but we also know that our growers have been working very hard to preserve the viability of their groves and maintain the quality of their fruit. We are all eager to see the beginning of the turnaround we know will take place. Regardless of the production this year, we will keep pushing toward that end.”

Lake Wales grower and Florida Citrus Commission chairman Marty McKenna echoed Shepp’s focus: “Our growers are working hard, and so are the scientists. We may not have turned the corner yet – but we will.”

If the forecast is accurate, the state’s orange production will have been cut in half in the span of seven years (the 2008-09 orange yield was 162.5 million boxes). Today’s estimate will be revised each month throughout the coming season, with a final report issued in July.

According to Shepp, the FDOC will remain focused on the task of promoting and protecting the Florida citrus industry. “We will continue to remind consumers why they fell in love with Florida citrus and why we have been a delicious and nutritious part of so many meals for so many years. We expect that consumers will continue to prefer Florida products, regardless of volume available.”

Commissioners will vote on a final FDOC budget at the Oct. 21 Florida Citrus Commission meeting.

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 nearly 62,000 people, provides an annual economic impact of nearly $10.7 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.