The USDA adjusted its estimate on California citrus. ( File Photo )

California will produce 44.5 million boxes of oranges this season, according to the latest estimate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That projection is 3% lower than the February forecast, largely because of a noticeable decrease in the estimate for valencias.

According to the USDA, there will be 9.5 million 80-pound boxes of valencias from California, down about 14% from the February forecast.

The 2017-18 California Valencia Orange Objective Measurement Report gave the same number — 19 million cartons at 40 pounds per carton.

According to the report, bearing acreage for valencias is steady from last season at 30,000. The final utilized production for the 2016-17 season was 11 million boxes.

The tangerine and mandarin forecast for California is the same as February at 21 million boxes.



The USDA forecast for Florida oranges is unchanged from February at 45 million boxes, down 35% from last season due to Hurricane Irma.

Florida is projected to produce 19 million boxes of early, mid-season and navel varieties and 26 million boxes of valencias.

Only one or two processing plants opened to run valencia oranges last month, according to the report.

“Most operations were waiting for higher ratios and better juice quality before getting started,” the USDA stated in the report. “Grove operations included fertilizing, spraying, applying herbicide, discing, and brush removal. Grove caretakers were irrigating at regular intervals. Field workers across the state reported seeing early blossoms beginning to emerge on some varieties, mainly valencia oranges.”

Twice as much grapefruit went to processing than went to the fresh market, according to the report.

The USDA estimate for Florida grapefruit was steady from February at 4.65 million boxes, down 40% from 2016-17.