(Nov. 30, PACKER WEB EXCLUSIVE) A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service is forecasting the 2007-08 U.S. citrus crop at 12.5 million tons, a 22% increase over last season, when California’s groves bore the brunt of a January freeze.

The Nov. 28 report said the increase is mainly due to bigger orange and tangerine crops. The report said fresh grapefruit and lemon crops will decline.

Lemon production is forecast at 684,000 tons, with California’s production 3% higher than last year and Arizona’s 40% lower. This season’s U.S. tangerine crop is estimated at 433,000 tons, 28% more than last season. While Florida is expected to have a bigger crop than last season, it would be smaller than 2005-06, and California’s crop could be as much as 61% higher than last year.

Both California and Florida will see significant increases in orange production. California is expected to produce 2.2 million tons of fresh oranges, a 29% increase over last year’s crop, which was damaged by a freeze that covered most of the state. Florida is projected to produce 7.6 million tons, most of which are processed. If this should materialize it will be the largest crop in three years.

Grapefruit production for this season may reach 1.5 million tons, a 5% decrease over last season representing the smallest crop in 85 years. With Florida growing 70% of U.S. grapefruits, the crop is expected to decline 8% to 1.1 million tons. Texas grapefruit production is forecast at 272,000 tons, 4% below last season, but still the second largest crop in seven years.