The first season forecasts for Florida Citrus predict 70 million boxes of oranges and 9.6 million boxes of grapefruit.
That means a 14% drop in the state’s orange production and of 11.5% in grapefruit compared to last season.
The forecasts – issued by the National Agriculture Statistics Service of the US Department of Agriculture – were nevertheless welcomed by the Florida Department of Citrus executive director Shannon Shepp who said they represent the dedication and hard work of Florida’s citrus growers.
“In the face of significant challenges, they continue to push forward with new plantings and advanced agricultural techniques that allow them to maintain the viability of their groves. Citrus greening is a disease unlike any we have ever faced but the Florida Citrus industry will prevail,” Shepp said.
Florida Citrus Commission chairman and Lake Wales citrus grower Ellis Hunt welcomed the fact the forecast came in higher than initial estimates. “I’m looking forward to the day we can see this number start rising again,” Hunt said.
And State Rep. Ben Albritton, chairman of the agriculture and natural resources appropriations committee, said while the numbers are lower than last season’s crop, they keep Florida Citrus competitive and represent industry stability.