Recovery reflected in first citrus crop forecast of the season

BARTOW, Fla. – In the first forecast of the 2018-19 season, the National Agriculture Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected increases in both the Florida Orange and Grapefruit crops over the previous season, bringing the industry near pre-Hurricane Irma production levels.

The USDA predicts Florida Orange production at 79 million boxes and Florida Grapefruit production at 6.7 million boxes for the 2018-19 season. The numbers are a sharp increase from the previous season, devastated by Hurricane Irma, when production dropped to 44.95 million boxes of oranges and 3.88 million boxes of grapefruit. 

“Obviously, we are pleased as we can possibly be for our growers to hear positive news they haven’t heard in a long time. After combating greening for so long and going through Hurricane Irma last season, today’s forecast means we truly could be on a path to recovery,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. “The most encouraging piece about this is knowing that our growers will be able to deliver the best orange juice and fresh grapefruit in the world to consumers who might have been missing it.”

According to Ellis Hunt, chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission, Thursday’s forecast reflects the hard work being put into every grove. “The increased crop is a reward for the care that growers are providing for their trees. To nearly come back to production levels of just a few years ago shows that we are moving in the right direction and putting the appropriate caretaking practices in place.”

Prior to Hurricane Irma, Florida production reached 68.7 million boxes of oranges and 7.8 million boxes of grapefruit in the 2016-17 season. 

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.