U.S. Department of Agriculture Revises Florida Orange Forecast, Predicts More Oranges
By Kevin Derby, Sunshine State News // April 13, 2016
predicts 76 million boxes this year
(SunshineStateNews) – Florida orange industry got some good news as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) revised its forecast on Tuesday.
NASS predicted 76 million boxes of oranges from Florida this season, up from the 69 million it forecast last month but down from the 80 million included in October’s forecast. This latest number represents a 22 percent reduction from last year’s output. NASS forecast 36 million boxes of early, midseason and Navel oranges, down 24 percent from last year.
The forecast for Florida Valencia oranges stood at 40 million boxes, down 19 percent from last season.
Florida frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ) continued to drop as well to 1.42 gallons per box, down from last year’s 1.50 gallons a box. This is a major drop of expectations from the fall. Back in October, NASS forecast 1.61 gallons a box which was lowered to 1.58 gallons per box in November.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam noted that the Legislature set aside $24 million to help the Sunshine State‘s troubled citrus industry.
“Today’s updated citrus forecast reflects a nearly 70 percent decline in the production of our state’s signature crop since the late 1990s. The long-term future of Florida citrus, and its $10 billion annual economic impact, depends on a breakthrough in the fight against greening,” said Putnam.
The decline in Florida citrus in recent years is mostly the result of Huanglongbing (HLB), better known as citrus greening.
Spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, a tiny insect, citrus greening infects trees, leading to deformed and bitter fruit. Eventually, citrus greening kills the tree. One of the few ways to fight citrus greening is by removing the tree.
In 2013, the Florida citrus industry — which generates $9 billion and employs more than 75,000 Floridians — saw its worst year in almost a quarter century and that downward trend has been continuing.
Last year, the USDA awarded $30 million to fight citrus greening and, back in April, launched a project with an additional $23 million in grants to fight citrus greening.