“There was some freeze damage in grapefruit as well as mid-season oranges, but overall, we came out fine from the freeze,” he said Feb. 9. “If the freeze hadn’t happened, we would have had a bigger honey tangerine crop than last year. It should be more similar to last year’s crop going into early April.”
Finch said he expects adequate volume to match increased retailer interest in bagged citrus for March and April promotions.
The USDA attributed the decrease in grapefruit production to lower January growth rates and reported slower growth rates and droppage in the orange crop.
Valencias sizes have been smaller than average, according to the USDA.
The state’s mid-season varieties normally end in February when the late-season valencias harvest begins, running through June.
Despite the expected lower production, Mike Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Mutual, said he expects the state to produce another quality crop.
“We are definitely seeing the effects of the prolonged freeze we experienced in January,” he said in a news release. “As a whole, the industry came through in decent shape; we did have frozen fruit and leaf damage across most of the growing regions and this report reflects that.”
Florida orange production ships primarily to processing with 4% — 7 million cartons — last season selling to fresh channels.
Though 57% (4 million cartons) of the state’s tangerines normally go fresh, 70% of the deal last year shipped fresh.
About 41% or 10 million cartons of Florida’s grapefruit normally ships fresh.