While the season is almost over, Florida citrus has bounced back after a rough showing last year but remains well below where it was before citrus greening devastated the Sunshine State.
In its latest look at citrus, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) slightly lowered its forecast for production in Florida on Tuesday.
In the new forecast, NASS revised its figures, dropping all orange production down 1 percent to 5.25 million tons. The Florida all orange forecast also dropped 1 percent to 71.4 million tons however that is still 58 percent more than the disastrous 2017-2018 season when Hurricane Irma devastated citrus across the Sunshine State.
While lowering its outlook for oranges, NASS kept its projections in place for early, midseason and Navel varieties in Florida, keeping expectations for them at 30.4 million boxes, the same as they were in the outlook released in May. However, NASS dropped its projection for Florida Valencia oranges down 2 percent to 41 million boxes.
NASS also revised grapefruit projections in the Sunshine State, cutting expectation for red grapefruits by 60,000 boxes and white grapefruits by 10,000 boxes, lowering the total figure to 4.51 million boxes.
Shannon Shepp, the executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, weighed in on the new numbers on Tuesday.
“Considering steep fluctuations in previous seasons, getting through to this part of the season with relatively stable numbers is a win,” said Shepp.
While Florida orange production is considerably higher than last year when it was devastated by Hurricane Irma and faced other problems, the forecast is lower than most of the production of the past two decades as the Sunshine State continues to struggle with citrus greening.