Fewer total U.S. citrus shipments are seen this season from the leading states of Florida, California and Texas.
Florida’s first forecast for citrus shipments reveals a continued decline across all varieties with grapefruit and navel oranges expected to be among the lowest levels in history. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on October 12th forecast Florida to ship 81 million equivalent cartons of oranges, grapefruit and specialty fruit or tangerines, down from 94.1 million boxes last season.
The Sunshine state is expected to move 70 million 90-pound cartons of oranges with navel oranges amounting 1 million cartons. Navels are predicted to be three percent lower than last season and the lowest since the 1979-80 season when the USDA began separate navel forecasts.
Regarding grapefruit, Florida should ship 9.6 million 85-pound cartons, down 11 percent from the 2015-16 season and the lowest level in 50 years. As for tangerines, early season fallglos, midseason sunbursts and later season honeys are forecast to decline as well.
The USDA report forecast 7.5 million boxes of red grapefruit and 2.1 million boxes of white grapefruit.
California Citrus Shipments
California orange loadings are forecast to be down from 54.2 million 80-pound cartons last season to 50.5 million cartons this season. The state’s grapefruit shipments are forecast to increase from 3.8 million 80-pound cartons last season to 4 million cartons for 2016-17.
Texas Citrus Shipments
Texas orange shipments are seen falling from 1.7 million 85-pound cartons in 2015-16 to 1.4 million cartons this year. With grapefruit, Texas shipments are forecast to decline from last season’s 4.8 million 80-pound cartons to 4.7 million cartons this season.
25 years ago or so , there were 30 shippers and packers of Texas grapefruit and oranges operating the Rio Grande Valley and shipment citrus across the U.S. as well as exporting. Today, there are only three shippers.
Worldwide citrus grower are concerned about citrus greening, the primary reason for the decline in Florida citrus volume. In Texas,, the crops have not been affected by the disease. However, observers point out Florida didn’t feel the decline [in volume and tree health] until the sixth year after greening was discovered. Texas is now entering its sixth since green was discovered in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. A lot of folks are holding their breath and taking a wait and see attitude.