(March 21) Fewer navels, tangerines and early and midseason oranges mean a slightly smaller Florida citrus deal.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said March 10 the state should produce 178.4 million boxes of citrus this season — a 1.8% decline from its Jan. 12 estimate of 181.7 million boxes.

Most of the decline comes from a 4 million-box reduction in early, midseason and navel oranges that go primarily to juice plants.

The drop comes as statisticians increased their estimates for white grapefruit and tangelo production. Production of colored grapefruit, tangerines and temples remain unchanged from the Feb. 9 and Jan. 12 forecasts.

  • White grapefruit, of which 40% went to fresh market last season, increased by 5 million boxes compared with the January estimate. The USDA adjusted its estimate upward after reviewing drop and size data.

  • Tangerines, which ship primarily fresh, were down 500,000 boxes from the January 5.7 million-box forecast and down 800,000 boxes from the initial season Oct. 12 pre-Hurricane Wilma 6 million-box estimate.

  • Tangelos, which in the past have been shipped mostly fresh, increased production by 200,000 boxes to 1.4 million, returning it to the USDA’s October forecast. The USDA noted that a larger percentage of tangelos have been harvested for juice.