VERO BEACH, Fla. — Buyers should expect Florida to produce higher volumes of grapefruit and tangerines but ship fewer cartons of navel oranges.
Grower-shippers began harvesting tangerines and grapefruit in mid- to late September.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting Florida to produce 2.2 million cartons of navels, 17% fewer than last season.
This season could be the lowest production since 1986, according to the USDA.
For overall orange production, the USDA’s Oct. 10 first season forecast predicted the state would pack 154 million equivalent cartons of oranges, 5% higher than last season’s.
On grapefruit, production gains in colored grapefruit are expected to boost production 8% from last season and tangerines are forecast 3% higher than last year.
Good sizing, quality
Matt Reel, director of sales for IMG Citrus Inc., said the expected shorter navel crop should help on the sizings.
He said the Indian River growing region experienced less rain and cooler temperatures that helped growers return to harvesting its grapefruit, navels and tangerines.
“The quality is looking very good,” Reel said in mid-October. “We are seeing some larger sizes on our navels and seeing good eating quality.
“Grapefruit is a good, average size peak that’s peaking on 40-counts, which is allowing us to do a lot of bag promotions. We ware very happy with the internal quality of the fruit,” he said.
The Dundee Citrus Growers Association began harvesting its fallglo tangerines and navels in mid-September and started its grapefruit harvesting later the same month in a slow way because maturities weren’t high enough, said Al Finch, vice president of sales and marketing for Florida Classic Growers, Dundee’s Lake Hamilton-based marketing arm.
Because of smaller national supplies in late September, Finch said grapefruit demand was strong.
He acknowledged the smaller navel crop but said he’s seeing big demand for grapefruit as well as tangerines.
“Demand has been excellent as many retailers are looking to fill their shelves with Florida citrus,” Finch said in early October.
“Many retailers have finished their imported citrus program and are looking to transition into Florida citrus sets in their stores,” he said.
“The bagged product is seeing the most interest. Lots of ad activity is taking place with ads breaking on 3-pound tangerine bags,” he said.