LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) _ Citrus harvesting began earlier this month and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that Florida’s orange crop will increase by 5 percent from last year.
The Ledger of Lakeland (http://bit.ly/UQ2VM2) reports the USDA forecast projected Florida growers will produce 154 million boxes of oranges.
It estimated the state’s grapefruit crop at 20.3 million boxes, up 8 percent; tangerines at 4.4 million boxes, up 3 percent; and tangelos at 1.2 million boxes, a 4 percent increase.
Citrus harvesting should run into June.
The USDA says Polk County leads the state’s citrus-producing counties with 82,572 grove acres and 9.9 million trees in 2012.
It historically leads in citrus production, as it did in the 2011-12 season.
It ranked No. 1 in orange, tangerine and tangelo production and third in grapefruit.