LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) _ Federal agricultural officials have lowered Florida’s orange crop forecast by almost 7 percent.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday that the 2015-2016 orange crop forecast would be 69 million boxes.
That’s a drop of 5 million boxes from last month’s estimate.
Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Michael Sparks says citrus growers knew this was going to be the smallest crop in years, but he says the most recent forecast is still surprising.
Sparks says the silver lining is that the smaller crop size may increase prices for growers.
Florida growers have been battling citrus greening, a bacterial disease that can kill a tree in just a couple of years.
Citrus greening has reduced Florida’s orange output by 50 percent over the past decade.