The USDA is projecting a 51% decrease in overall production for Florida citrus, with both Valencia and Non-Valencia oranges showing the biggest drops.
According to the entity’s Agricultural Statistics Board, harvest for next month will close at 20 million boxes. This is down 8 million from the October forecast.
The Sunshine State’s produce industry is among the most affected by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, with many vegetable production areas flooded in the Everglades. This negatively impacted both growing plots and yields, as crop planting was largely just beginning when Ian hit Southwest Florida.
Regarding varieties, Valencia oranges would show the largest decline in production with 13 million boxes, down 4 million from the October forecast. Current fruit size is below the minimum compared to the previous 10 seasons, the report states.
This is similar to the projection for non-Valencia oranges (early, mid-season, and Navel varieties), which is also to decrease by 4 million, dropping to 13 boxes. Fruit size is currently below average and is projected to remain so at harvest.
Grapefruit production is also expected to decrease by 200,000 boxes to 1.8 total. Red grapefruit forecast lowered from 180,000 to 1.62 million boxes, while white grapefruit forecast decreased 20,000 boxes to 180,000.
Tangerine and tangelo yields are also predicted to go down by 100,000 boxes, for a total of 600,000.
“Chances are 2 out of 3 that the current all orange production forecast will not be above or below the final estimates by more than 8.4 percent, or 8.3 percent excluding abnormal seasons (three hurricane seasons). Chances are 9 out of 10 (90 percent confidence level) that the difference will not exceed 14.5 percent, or 14.4 percent excluding abnormal seasons,” the report said.