The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting increases in overall U.S. citrus production, particularly Florida oranges, grapefruit and tangerines.

USDA predicts larger citrus productionIn its first season report on Oct. 12, the USDA predicted production increases in nearly all varieties of Florida citrus with only white grapefruit seeing a 4% decline and early fallglo tangerines seeing a 1% drop compared to the previous season.

At 57.5 million boxes, forecasters expect California to produce 6.6% fewer oranges compared to last season’s 61.5  million equivalent boxes. Florida orange production, which ships primarily to processing, is forecast to produce 147 million boxes, up 5% from last season’s 140.3 million. Forecasters expect Texas valencias to increase while its larger non-valencias production should decline 12%.

Buyers should expect overall U.S. orange production to increase 1.3% from 203.7 million boxes in 2010-11 to 206.2 million boxes.

On grapefruit, Florida should produce 20.1 million cartons, up 2% from last season’s 19.7 million. Though red grapefruit production is forecast to increase 4%, the USDA predicts white grapefruit production to fall 4%. With drops in California and Texas, total U.S. grapefruit production is pegged at 26.6 million boxes, down 5% from last season’s 30.1 million boxes.

Tangerines are projected to increase in most producing states, with California seeing a 3.9% jump from last season’s 9.9 million cartons to 10.3 million cartons this season.

For overall U.S. citrus, the USDA says the category is expected to pack 272.9 million equivalent boxes, compared to the 271.9 million boxes last year.

The Dundee Citrus Growers Association, Dundee, Fla., started running fallglo tangerines and navel oranges in mid-September, a little earlier than last season. It expects to transition to sunburst tangerine variety in early November and in mid-October was moving into larger navel volume, said Al Finch, vice president of sales and marketing for the Lake Hamilton, Fla.-based Florida Classic Growers, Dundee’s marketing arm.

Finch said the season is bringing more retail tangerine and navel ads and promotions.

“We are pleased with the eating quality of our fruit,” he said Oct. 12. “Maturity levels are running a few weeks ahead of previous seasons. Retailers are putting citrus on their shelves as importers finish. They’re excited to get back into the Florida citrus deal as they finish their summer citrus programs.”

The report can be found at