The U.S. Department of Agriculture reduced its orange crop forecast for the 2011-12 season by 2 million boxes, estimating Florida will now produce 145 million boxes.
"It's truly amazing Florida growers can once again produce such a quality crop in the face of immense challenges such as HLB, or citrus greening," Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual, said in a press release. "This is a testament to the resiliency of our growers and the fact they are the best in the world, bar none."
The USDA makes its initial forecast in October and then revises it monthly until the end of the season in July. During the 2010-11 season, Florida produced 139 million boxes of oranges.
The 2011-2012 April decrease was seen entirely in Valencias, with the estimate dropping from 73 million to 71 million boxes. Early and mid-season varieties remained at 74 million boxes. For Florida specialty fruit, the USDA predicted 1.15 million boxes of tangelos and 4.3 million boxes of tangerines. Those numbers are unchanged from March.
The yield for from concentrate orange juice decreased to 1.62 gallons per 90-pound box from the previous estimate of 1.64 gallons per box.
The USDA predicted Florida will harvest 18.8 million boxes of grapefruit in 2011-12, showing a minor rise from the March forecast of 18.7 million.
The Florida citrus industry creates a $9 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 76,000 people and covering about 550,000 acres. Founded in 1948 and currently representing nearly 8,000 grower members, Florida Citrus Mutual is one of the state's larger citrus-grower organizations. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com.
The complete USDA estimate is available at www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/cpfp.htm.