Florida citrus production continues to decline.
The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast shows losses in most oranges, grapefruit and tangerine production but late season valencias are pegged to remain the same as the previous month’s report.
In its March 10 report, the USDA estimates the state’s production of all oranges to decline 1%, non-valencia oranges to decrease by 2%, all grapefruit down by 6% and all tangerines to fall by 7%.
On grapefruit, both colored and white fruit are each lowered by 500,000 equivalent cartons, lowering production to 16 million cartons, smaller than the 18.8 million cartons the state produced in 2013.
While growers have completed the earlier season fallglo and sunburst tangerine harvesting, the USDA pegged production of the later season honey tangerines to decline 200,000 boxes from the previous month’s forecast.
“Everybody in the industry understands fruit drop has been an issue this season with our earlier varieties,” Michael Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Mutual, said in a news release. “So it’s somewhat encouraging we lost less than 1% off the estimate this month. Maybe we’ve found some stability as we move into our valencia harvest.”
For the season, Florida growers are expected to produce 114 million cartons of oranges, down from last season’s 133.6 million cartons.
Total Florida citrus production is expected to be 134 million cartons, down from 156 million cartons last season.
Though most of the state’s oranges ship to processed channels, about 65% of its navels, 40% of its grapefruit and 63% of its tangerines ship fresh.