BARTOW – The latest report by United States Department of Agriculture holds Florida Orange production steady with a slight decrease in Grapefruit production, according to a release Tuesday.
The USDA’s April report estimates Florida Orange production for 2017-18 to remain at 45 million boxes, a 35 percent decrease over last season and the lowest crop size in more than 75 years. Florida Grapefruit production reduced by 650,000 boxes to 4 million boxes, a decrease of 49 percent over last season. There was a small increase in Florida specialty fruit, which includes tangerines and tangelos.
“After a season of crisis, our industry finds hope in a new bloom, a new crop, disaster relief on the horizon and the opportunity a new season brings,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus.
Hurricane Irma had a devastating impact on the Florida Citrus industry. 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 and impacting future seasons’ growth.
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. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed federal disaster recovery relief as part of a larger spending bill in February. In April, the USDA announced it will begin implementing disaster payments of up to $2.36 billion in response to 2017 hurricanes and wildfires.
Prior to Hurricane Irma, Florida was expected to produce about 75 million boxes of oranges this season, according to private estimates.
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.