U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said this week that for the second season in a row, late-maturing oranges in hurricane-hit and canker-infected areas will leave Florida with one of its worst citrus crops in more than a decade, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle.
Reducing its production forecast, the USDA now projects that that state will produce 151 million boxes of oranges, a third less than earlier seasons, the newspaper said. Each box contains 90 pounds of fruit.
Production this season is predicted to finish slightly better than last season’s 149 million boxes.
The USDA report also notes concerns among the industry that labor shortages were leaving growers in a harvesting bind, the Chronicle article said.
Florida’s grapefruit forecast was unchanged at 19 million boxes, but it is still near historic lows, the USDA said.