By Doug Ohlemeier, special from The Packer


(Oct. 10, 3:37 p.m.) Declines in Florida and California oranges and
grapefruit production but more boxes of lemons and similar tangerine
packouts should mark the upcoming 2008-09 citrus season.

In the
season’s first official citrus forecast, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture Oct. 10 forecast across-the-board production drops in most
varieties of Florida, California and Texas oranges, tangerines and
grapefruit.

Only Florida navels, California and Arizona lemons,
California tangerines and Arizona grapefruit are expected to see
production increases.

Florida, the leading citrus-producing
state, is forecast to produce 166 million equivalent cartons of oranges
— down 2.5% from last season’s 170.2 million boxes.

On grapefruit, Florida is expected to produce 23 million boxes — 13.5% down from last season’s 26.6 million boxes.

For
tangerines, despite a small increase in its early fallglo tangerines,
Florida is forecast to pack 4.9 million boxes, an 11% decline from last
season’s 5.5 million boxes.

California and Arizona are
expected to produce 14% more cartons of lemons, boosting production to
21.5 million packages compared to last season’s 18.5 million.

On
all citrus, Florida is expected to pack 195.4 million boxes, down from
last season’s 203.8 million boxes. That’s considerably lower than the
281.1-million-box 2000-04 average but closer to the 201-million-box
2004-08 average.

The 280.2 million boxes of citrus U.S.
producing regions are expected to pack for the upcoming season is lower
than last year’s 307 million boxes and lower than the 297.7-million-box
past five-year average.