January crop update projects decrease in Florida orange production

Florida grapefruit remained the same at 15 million boxes.

BARTOW, Fla. – The first citrus crop update of the new year projected a decrease in this season’s Florida orange production while Florida grapefruit held steady, according to a report issued Monday by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The January forecast projected Florida orange production for the 2014-15 season at 103 million boxes, a change of less than 5 percent from the previous estimate of 108 million boxes.

Florida grapefruit production was projected to remain – for the fourth month in a row – at 15 million boxes.

A spokesman for the USDA attributed the change in orange production to a decrease in the size of non-Valencia fruit as well as an increase in the rate of drop. Both are thought to be associated with citrus greening disease.

“Florida’s growers continue to work hard to preserve the viability of their groves and the quality of the fruit,” said Doug Ackerman, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. “The reduced forecast is consistent with anecdotal reports we’ve heard as we travel the state, and the new numbers are still well within the range we have planned for here at the Department. The growers are focused, and so are we.”

The FDOC planned its budget for the current season on an initial estimate of 100 million boxes. The 2013-14 Florida Citrus crop produced 104.6 million boxes of oranges.

“There are no overnight fixes in our battle against citrus greening,” Ackerman said. “However, tree replanting programs, advances in scientific research and the commitment of our growers is helping ensure that we will reverse this downward trend in the future.”

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.