Good volume citrus shipments are expected this season from California and Texas, but the big news could be this may be the year of a turn around for Florida, which has been clobbered in recent years by citrus greening and hurricanes.
Florida citrus shipments may be up a little this year, and that may be a big deal.
The first recently released forecast by the USDA shows a moderate increase in Florida citrus shipments during the 2019-20 season.
The USDA’s first estimate for 2019-20 Florida orange loadings is 74 million boxes, up 3.4 percent from last season. The agency projected Florida grapefruit volume at 4.6 million boxes for the 2019-20 season, up 2 percent from the previous crop. Florida’s combined tangerine and mandarin crop is forecast at 1.05 million boxes, 6 percent higher than a year ago.
“This incremental increase is good news for the industry as we continue to recover from Hurricane Irma and the devastating effects of citrus greening,” Michael Sparks, executive vice president and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, said in a news release. “We believe that this number — if it holds throughout the year — will strike a nice balance of getting the processors the oranges they need while firming up prices to the Florida citrus grower.”
Sparks said growers are slowing building output after declines caused by citrus greening disease pressures.
“We are not out of the woods but we are making gains,” Sparks said in the release.
The USDA issues its first estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly during the harvest until the end of the season in July.
“This reflects what we’ve been hearing from growers,” Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, said in a release. “Florida Citrus is here to stay.”
That sentiment was echoed by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
“Today’s forecast reflects the resilience of Florida’s citrus growers, dedication to the citrus industry, and commitment to innovation in the face of challenges,” Fried said in the release. “Citrus is Florida’s signature crop, and we’re committed to supporting our citrus producers with new research, technology, and techniques to fight the spread of citrus greening.”
California, Texas Shipments
In California, navel orange shipments are predicted to be at 47 million boxes, down 6 percent from last season’s final estimate.
The California valencia orange forecast is 9 million boxes, unchanged from last season. Texas orange Volume is forecast at 2.70 million boxes, up 8 percent from a year ago.
Meanwhile, the combined tangerine and mandarin forecast for California is 23 million boxes, down 12 percent from last season.
Grapefruit loadings in California is forecast at 4.2 million boxes, up a whopping 32 percent compared to last season.
Texas grapefruit shipments are projected at 5.7 million boxes, down 7 percent from last year.
Lemon volume in 2019-20 is forecast at 20 million boxes in California, 12 percent less than last season. Arizona lemon output is pegged at 1.4 million boxes, 4 percent higher than last season.