Significant decreases in Florida’s citrus production are projected to be an issue for U.S. citrus over the next decade.
That’s the forecast from a new report on U.S. Department of Agriculture long-term projections issued in mid-February.
In the next 10 years, fruit, tree nuts and vegetable production is projected to rise at a modest 0.6% annually, when measured by farm weight.
Citrus, however, will suffer declines in production over the next 10 years, according to the USDA, dropping from 17.49 billion pounds in 2018 to 14.04 billion pounds by 2027, a drop of 20% over the next decade.
“While the value of production is expected to grow over the next decade due to higher prices, citrus production continues to decline slowly over the projection period, primarily due to loss of bearing acreage in Florida and the spread of citrus greening, a citrus disease spread by insects for which no cure currently exists,” according to the USDA report.
In fact, the report said citrus greening has the potential to threaten the “entire citrus industry if not closely monitored.”
The USDA said declines in citrus production are projected to be offset by increases in non-citrus fruit.
According to the report, the value of U.S. fruit, vegetable and nut production will top $65.8 billion by calendar year 2027, up from nearly $52 billion in 2018. The value of production will grow about 2.7% per year for fruits, nuts and vegetables. Of the total value, the USDA said fruits contribute nearly 40% of the total value, tree nuts 18% and vegetables 42%.
The USDA said U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable exports will increase from $7 billion in 2016 to $8.5 billion in 2027, a gain of 21.4% over ten years.
Imports of fresh fruits and vegetables will grow much faster, the USDA said. Imports of fresh produce will climb from $19.2 billion in 2016 to $32.1 billion in 2027, a gain of 68.9% over ten years.
“Growing consumer incomes, coupled with a demand for a wide variety of food, drives increases in U.S. agricultural imports over the projection period,” the USDA said, noting that the 4% annual growth in horticultural imports is largely driven by active fresh fruit and vegetable sales.