The orange forecast for Florida has been adjusted downward again. ( File photo )

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates Florida will produce 44.95 million boxes of oranges this season, a slight decrease from the April forecast of 50 million.

“With everything Florida citrus growers have gone through this year, we consider today’s forecast to be relatively stable and not unexpected,” Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, said in a news release. “This is an industry choosing to remain optimistic about the future. And part of that optimism comes from the support we’ve received from policy makers, industry and consumers.”

In October, about a month after Hurricane Irma battered the state, the USDA projected 54 million boxes, a figure growers disputed immediately.

Some in the industry projected there could be as few as 35 million or 40 million boxes of oranges this season.

If the state produces around 45 million boxes, it will be a decrease of about 35% from the 2016-17 total, which was 68.86 million boxes.

“Today’s citrus crop forecast is another reminder of the continued struggles of Florida’s iconic citrus industry since Hurricane Irma inflicted unprecedented damage last year,” Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam said in another news release. “But thanks to the collaborative efforts of the USDA, Florida’s agriculture industry and our elected leaders, a much-needed disaster relief package is on the way to help growers get back on their feet.”