Apple shippers in upstate New York will be more comfortable with a forecast once they get through August. Meanwhile, an early forecast doesn’t predict any good times for Florida citrus shipments.
New York apple shippers are reluctant to put on estimate on their crop this season. After all, farmers get spooked easily, don’t want to jinx the crop, and are all too aware of what Mother Nature may have planned. Once we get into September they’ll start loosening up a bit.
Still they remember what history has taught them that a lot can change between April and August, even from July to August. Into 2015 crop all hell broke loose between July and August. The USDA’s July 2015 forecast was 26.2 million 42-pound units, or cartons. Its July 2016 final estimate of the 2015 crop just came out at 32.4 million. That’s a significant increase to market, sell and ship without a lot of notice. But even that year was just short of 2009’s record crop of 32.6 million.
Florida Citrus Shipments
Florida citrus shippers face a tumultuous year if a projected 26 percent decline in Florida’s new orange crop for the 2016-17 season pans out.
One recent prediction has Florida orange growers producing only 60.5 million boxes of oranges in the new season, which begins in October, down from 81.5 million boxes in 2015-16.
If that estimate holds, it will be the smalles Florida orange crop in 53 years since 54.9 million boxes harvested in the 1963-64 season. The next lowest crop was 57.79 million orange boxes in 1949-50.
Florida growers continue to lose the battle against the fatal bacterial disease citrus greening. Additionally, the fungal disease called “postbloom fruit drop” hit the late-season Valencia orange crop hard during the spring.
Greening results in a tree producing fewer, smaller fruit, meaning fewer boxes are picked. Infected trees also show a diminished capacity to hold onto mature fruit before harvesting, known as “pre-harvest drop.”
Florida citrus officials consider greening as the primary factor behind the 66 percent drop in the state’s orange harvest from 242 million boxes in the 2003-04 season, the last non-hurricane season before the disease’s 2005 discovery in the state.
The USDA will release its first official crop estimate October 12.