An interim rule for sizing and grading valencia and other late oranges grown in Florida has been adopted as the final rule, with federal officials saying the intent is to help growers and shippers maximize fresh shipments late in the season.

The new rule, effective Aug. 23, amends Marketing Order No. 905 by reducing the minimum size for valencias and other late-type oranges shipping to interstate markets by a quarter-inch, from 2 8/16 inches to 2 4/16 inches. The smaller sizes are allowed from May 15-Aug. 31 each year.

The new rule also reduces minimum grade requirements. From May 15-June 14 the grade is lowered from a U.S. No. 1 to a U.S. No. 1 Golden. From June 15-Aug. 31 the minimum grade for interstate shipping is lowered from a U.S. No. 2 external to a U.S. No. 1 internal.

“The industry believes there may be a late season market for Florida valencia and other late type oranges in the foodservice industry. However, the previous size and grade regulations were making it difficult to supply this market,” according to the final rule published in the Federal Register Aug. 22.