Press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its April orange crop forecast for the 2008-2009 season slightly reducing the total orange estimate by 400,000 boxes to 157.6 million boxes.

“This is a manageable crop and that’s important because we need to start moving out excess juice inventories,” says Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “The USDA has taken off several million boxes since its initial estimate in October so we are anticipating this should have a positive effect on grower returns.”

The early and midseason orange crop accounted for the total reduction with an estimate of 84.6 million boxes, down 400,000 from the previous 85 million boxes.

The Valencia projection remained at 73 million boxes this season, and the USDA maintained its prediction that 23 million boxes of Florida grapefruit will be produced in ’08-’09.

Visit www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/cpfp.htm for the complete USDA estimate. The USDA makes the initial forecast in October and then revises it monthly until the end of the season in July. In 2007-2008, Florida harvested 170.2 million boxes of oranges.

Florida specialty fruit remained steady at 1.2 million boxes of tangelos and 4 million boxes of tangerines.  The yield for from-concentrate orange juice (FCOJ) is still expected to average 1.64 gallons per 90-pound box.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $9.3 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 76,000 people, and covering more than 576,000 acres. Founded in 1948 and currently representing nearly 8,000 grower members, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com.

###

Contact: Andrew Meadows at (863) 682-1111 or (cell)(863) 944-4924

Florida Citrus Mutual • P.O. Box 89 • Lakeland, FL 33802 • Phone (863) 682-1111 • Fax (863) 682-1074 • www.flcitrusmutual.com