California Valencia orange shipments for the season remain unchanged in the USDA latest forecast, while there is a mixture of changes in the estimates for Florida citrus shipments, depending on the items.
The USDA is forecasting the California Valencia orange shipments at 19 million 40-pound cartons, the same as the final utilized production of valencias in the 2017-18 season.
The state’s bearing acreage is 29,000, the same as the most recent season.
The growing season had mostly dry weather early, but rainy throughout February. The average number of fruit per tree, 573, is 9 percent greater than last season, and above the 5-year average of 568.
Data was collected from 349 groves, primarily in Tulare, Kern, Fresno, Ventura and San Diego counties.
Florida grapefruit shipments dropped 10 percent for the current growing season in Florida, while the orange volume remains steady.
The USDA reports Florida remains on pace to ship enough oranges to fill 77 million 90-pound boxes — the industry standard — during the current season.
Meanwhile, growers are on pace now to fill 5.4 million boxes of grapefruit, which is down from 6 million boxes projected in February.
Also, projections of specialty citrus such as tangelos and tangerines, which declined by 16.7 percent over the first 2 months of the year, fell another 5 percent in the latest forecast, from a projection of 1 million boxes in February to 950,000 boxes.
Despite the lower projections for grapefruit and specialty fruit, the industry appears headed to an improvement over the past two growing years.
Hurricane Irma in 2018 devastated the 2017-2018 crop, resulting in just 49.58 million boxes of oranges, grapefruit and other citrus.
During the 2016-2017 season, meanwhile, Florida had 68.7 million boxes of oranges.
The recent figures pale for an industry that two decades ago produced more than 200 million boxes of citrus a year. The industry continues to struggle against citrus greening disease, development pressures and a change in drinking habits.