( File photo )

Mother Nature shrunk the citrus crop in a big way in the 2017-18 season.

Utilized U.S. citrus production totaled 6.13 million tons in the 2017-18 season, down 20% compared with 2016-17 season, and a whopping 66% lower than the record high production of 17.8 million tons in 1997-98, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Total fresh U.S. citrus shipments in 2017-18 were 3.308 million tons, down 7% from 2016-17 and 13% below 2015-16. 

California represented 87% of all U.S. fresh citrus shipments in 2017-18, compared with 7% from Florida, 5% from Texas and 1% from Arizona.

The USDA said Florida accounted for 36% of total U.S. citrus production, compared with 59% for California. Texas and Arizona produced the remaining 5%, according to the USDA. 

Florida tough spell

Beset by citrus greening disease and Hurricane Irma in 2017, Florida’s citrus output continued its decline in 2017-18.

Florida’s orange production, at 45 million boxes in 2017-18, was down 35% from the previous season. Grapefruit utilization in Florida, at 3.88 million boxes in 2017-18, was down 50% from the previous season. 

Florida’s total citrus utilization decreased 37% from the previous season, the USDA said. 

Fresh shipments of Florida citrus were rated at 221,000 tons, down 30% from 317,000 tons in 2016-17 and off 50% from 2015-16.

Bearing citrus acreage in Florida, at 400,900 acres in 2017-18, was 9,800 acres below the 2016-17 season, the USDA said.

In California, the USDA reported utilized citrus production dropped 7% from the 2016-17 season. California’s all orange production, at 45.4 million boxes, was 6% lower than the previous season. The state’s grapefruit production, the USDA said, was down 9% from the 2016-17; tangerine and mandarin production was down 19%.

California’s fresh citrus utilization was 2.88 million tons in 2017-18, down 5% from 2016-17 and off 9% from 2015-16.
In Texas, utilized production of citrus in Texas was up 9% from the 2016-17 season. Orange production is up 37% from the previous season but grapefruit production was unchanged.

Texas fresh utilization was 175,000 tons in 2017-18, up 8% from 2016-17 and 11% higher than 2015-16.

The USDA said lemon production in Arizona in 2017-18 was down 35% from last season. Arizona fresh citrus utilization was 32,000 tons in 2017-18, down 29% from 2016-17 and down 32% from 2015-16.

The value of the 2017-18 U.S. citrus crop decreased 7% from last season to $3.28 billion (packinghouse door equivalent). 
Total value of production for 2017-18 is lower for all citrus crops, the USDA said.

Orange value of production decreased 9% from last season and grapefruit value is down 14%. Tangerine and mandarin value of production is 1% higher than last season but lemon value of production is down 6%.