Citrus shipments from the Florida industry continues to decline, with the loading of oranges dropping another million boxes in the past month.
The USDA reports February 9th that orange growers will ship 70 million 90-pound boxes to market. The season, which peaks during the winter months, had shown some promise in November. At that time industry analysts predicted 72 million boxes.
However, in January, the forecast dipped to 71 million. That is a 14 percent decline from last season’s final Florida orange shipping report.
Valencia production estimates from January to February held even at 35 million boxes, but the prediction for early, mid-season and navel oranges dropped from 36 million to 35 million boxes.
“Today’s forecast reflects a true utilization of early, mid-season, and navel varieties. We hope for higher numbers of valencia production as we continue through the second half of the season,” executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus Shannon Shepp said in a news release.
Oranges make up about 65 percent of Florida citrus trees and fresh loadings account for about 4percent of orange shipments.
Overall production estimates of all oranges, which also includes California and Texas, dropped 1 percent, to 5.35 million tons, from January’s estimate. That is a 10 percent slump from overall shipments a year ago.
Citrus greening, weather and other issues have created challenges for Florida’s citrus production, which accounts for almost half of the total U.S. harvest.
In its February report, the USDA kept California’s orange crop estimates the same at 53 million 80-pound boxes to be shipped, with 44 million boxes of navel, early and mid-season oranges and 9 million boxes of valencias for shipping.
Florida grapefruit estimates remained steady at 9 million 85-pound boxes. California grapefruit production estimates were also the same from January, with 4.1 million 80-pound boxes.
Florida produce shipments, ranging from vegetables to melons, berries and citrus – grossing about $2500 to New York City.