Posts Tagged “citrus greening”

FL Facing Its Lowest Orange Yield In Decades; 19 Counties Declared Disaster Areas

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Florida citrus losses are reported the worst in 75 years between Hurricane Irma and citrus greening, plus nearly two dozen Florida counties are declared disaster areas.

by Malena Carollo, Tampa Bay Times

After a decade of fighting a losing battle against a tree-killing disease (citrus greening) and declining yields, growers thought this year’s abundant crop promised a turnaround. Then, just weeks before harvest, Hurricane Irma hit.

“This was a real punch in the face,” said Andrew Meadows, spokesperson for citrus trade organization Florida Citrus Mutual.

Overcome by almost $800 million in losses from the hurricane, the state’s citrus industry is suddenly facing its lowest orange yield in 75 years, far worse than forecasts expected just a couple of months ago.

Although damage is still being assessed, the latest numbers released by the state put expected losses at roughly $761 million. Early estimates suggest that this year’s crop will be the single lowest yield since 1942.

To read the rest of the story, please go to: Tampa Bay Times


19 Florida Counties Declared Disaster Areas

A natural disaster declaration for 19 Florida counties issued by the USDA acknowledges widespread damage by Hurricane Irma.

As a result of the declaration farmers and ranchers in those areas are able to seek support, including emergency loans, from the Farm Service Agency, according to a news release.

“I thank U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for taking action to support Florida’s farmers and ranchers still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Irma, Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam said in the release.  Our preliminary estimates peg the total damage at more than $2.5 billion, but it’s important to recognize that the damage is still unfolding.

“The disaster declaration provides much needed support, and I will continue working with (Florida Gov. Rick Scott) and our leaders in Washington to get Florida agriculture the relief it needs to rebuild,”  Putnam said.

The USDA released its first citrus crop estimate recently, but industry members say the department grossly understated the extent of the damage from Irma.


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Florida Orange Forecast is Steady in Latter Part of Season

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DSCN5346The forecast for all Florida orange shipments in April hasn’t changed from the March outlook, at 67 million boxes; but grapefruit shipping volume has been reduced.

Growers are battling citrus greening in the groves, resulting in the smaller crop.   Following the revised  USDA forecast shows the total orange volume includes 33 million boxes of the non-valencia oranges (early, midseason, and navels) and 34 million boxes of valencia oranges.  Florida is the top orange-producing state in the U.S., with California second, at a projected 51 million boxes for 2016-17.

The final numbers for Florida citrus won’t be known until the end of July.

For the previous 10 seasons used in the regressions, the April all-orange forecast has deviated from final production by an average of 3 percent, with five seasons above and five below, and differences ranging from 7 percent below to 5 percent above, USDA reported.

The forecast of non-valencia production was unchanged, at 33 million boxes. The survey, conducted March 29-30, showed 99 percent of the early-midseason rows were harvested.  Non-valencia estimated utilization to April 1, with an allocation for non-certified fruit, was 32.9 million boxes.

The navel forecast was lowered by 50,000 boxes at 800,000 boxes, 2 percent of the non-valencia total.

The forecast of valencia production remained at 34 million boxes. Final fruit size was close to the minimum, requiring 242 pieces to fill a 90-pound box. The survey indicated final droppage at 30 percent, slightly below the maximum.  A survey showed 28 percent of the valencia rows were harvested.

The forecast of all grapefruit production was lowered 800,000 boxes to 8.10 million, with changes made in both the white and red grapefruit forecasts. The white grapefruit forecast was lowered 200,000 boxes, to 1.5 million, and the red grapefruit forecast was lowered 600,000 boxes, to 6.6 million.

Estimated utilization to April 1, with an allocation for non-certified use, of white grapefruit was 1.42 million boxes and red grapefruit, 6.24 million.  Florida leads the U.S. in grapefruit production, with Texas’ projected 4.7 million boxes second.

The forecast of early tangerine varieties — fallglo and sunburst — was finalized, at 600,000 boxes with 225,000 boxes of fallglo and 375,000 boxes of sunburst. Harvest is complete for these varieties this season. The royal tangerine forecast was raised 20,000 boxes to 240,000. The later-maturing honey tangerine forecast was raised 130,000 boxes, to 520,000. California’s projected 22 million boxes of tangerines and tangelos leads the U.S., with Florida second, at 1.64 million.

The tangelo portion of the all tangerine forecast remained at 280,000 boxes. Estimated utilization to April 1 is 277,000 boxes, which included an allocation for non-certified fruit.

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Texas Ups Grapefruit Loads to E. Coast; Plenty of Apples Remain to be Shipped

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DSCN9028More Texas grapefruit loads than usual are headed to the East Coast this season.  Meanwhile, apples remaining in storages to be shipped remain significant higher than a year ago.

Florida grapefruit shipments have halted for the season, as much as three weeks ahead of schedule as volume declines continue, something that has been affecting all Florida citrus as citrus greening losses continue to mount.

Texas grapefruit shipments which have increased this season (by 10 percent) are now destined for some East Coast cities to fill the void left by Florida.  Meanwhile,  California citrus loadings are just getting underway.

Florida grapefruit acreage has plunged from more than 124,000 acres in 1970 to about 40,300 acres this past season.   The estimated end-of-season shipments this season is 9 million 85-pound cartons, compared to 10.8 million a year ago and 12.9 million in 2014-15.

There were no quality problems with the Florida grapefruit that could be shipped, but there was a much lower quantity.  The blame is laid on citrus greening and not weather.  It’s the lowest volume in possibly three decades.

As for Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, grapefruit shipments have yet to be effected by citrus greening.  Lone Star State Loadings should continue through mid-April.

California citrus shipments should be in good volume leading up to Easter, which is April 16th.

Texas grapefruit, and imported Mexican produce – grossing about $4200 to New York City.

Apple Shipments

Fresh apples remaining in U.S. storages as of March 1st stood at 69.7 million (42-pound) cartons, 12 percent more higher than last year and 8 percent over the five-year average.

Washington state accounted for 90 percent of the remaining apples, amounting to 62.7 million cartons.  Red delicious storage apples totaled 24.4 million cartons, up 33 percent from 18.4 million cartons in 2016.  However, this was down 16 percent from 29 million cartons from March 2015.

Gala variety fresh apples in storage stood at 12.9 million cartons, up 36 percent from 9.5 million cartons a year ago and about the same as two years ago.
Washington’s Yakima and Wenatchee Valley apples and pears – grossing about $6200 to New York City.

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Citrus Shipping Outlook for Florida, Texas and California

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DSCN7158A small decrease is expected for Florida citrus shipments this season, while increases are projected for California and Texas.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates in its Jan. 12 report that  Florida orange shipments will 71 million 90-pound boxes, one million less than expected in the USDA December forecast, a decrease of about 1 percent.

Loadings for midseason and navel varieties remains unchanged at 36 million boxes, but the forecast for the later valencia oranges is now 35 million, down about 3 percent from the earliered total of 36 million.  These small changes are considered normal for season to season.

The good news is observers believe the citrus industry is gaining ground on fight citrus greening disease (huanglongbing) as new trees are now being planted.

The overall forecast of 71 million boxes of Florida oranges is 13% less than last season’s production.

Florida is projected to ship 9 million 85-pound boxes of grapefruit, off about 3 percent from the December forecast, with the expectation for red grapefruit steady at 7.3 million boxes and the outlook for white down from 2 million to 1.7 million.

The projection for tangerines and tangelos in Florida was up slightly to 1.52 million boxes from 1.5 million in the December forecast.

Southern and Central Florida citrus, strawberries and vegetables – grossing about $2400 to New York City.

California Citrus Shipments

California is expected to ship 53 million 80-pound boxes of oranges, up about 5 percent from the December forecast of 50.5 million. The state is expected to ship 44 million boxes of non-valencia oranges and 9 million boxes of valencia oranges. In December, the forecast was for 42 million boxes of non-valencias and 8.5 million of valencias.

The Golden State is expected to produce 4.1 million 80-pound boxes of grapefruit, up 2.5 percent from the December prediction of 4 million.

Forecasts for lemon shipments were down nearly 5 percent in California, from 21 million 80-pound boxes to 20 million, and down nearly 14 percent in Arizona, from 1.8 million to 1.55 million.

The expectation for California  tangerines and tangelos was unchanged at 23 million boxes.

Southern California citrus, tomatoes and kiwifruit – grossing about $3900 to Chicago.

Texas Citrus Shipments

The Lower Rio Grande Valley of  Texas, should ship 1.45 million 85-pound boxes of non-valencias, up from a December projection of one million, a 45 percent increase.  The forecast for 350,000 boxes of valencias was unchanged from last month.

The USDA projected Texas production will be 5.3 million 80-pound boxes, up nearly 13 percent from the December forecast of 4.7 million.

In the last 10 seasons, the January citrus forecast for the various regions has deviated from final production by an average of 5 percent, ranging from 15 percent below production to 10 percent above production.

South Texas citrus, Mexican tropical fruit and vegetables – grossing about $2800 to Chicago.

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Florida Citrus Greening Scenarios are Explored

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006During the next decade, Florida orange production could sink by another two-thirds unless better solutions to the fatal bacterial disease citrus greening aren’t found.

That’s the worst-case scenario presented recently to the Florida Citrus Commission in a new, long-term citrus production forecast by Marisa Zansler, chief economist at the Florida Department of Citrus, and Tom Spreen, emeritus professor of agricultural economics at the University of Florida and a department consultant. The commission is the Citrus Department’s governing board.

Spreen presented three forecasts based on different computer models of the future, including one based on no research breakthroughs on greening and no change in current production trends, such as declines in yield, or the boxes of fruit harvested per tree, and in the shrinking number of trees and commercial grove acres.

The pessimistic model projects Florida growers harvesting 27.3 million boxes of oranges in the 2026-27 season. That compares to 81.6 million orange boxes harvested in the recently completed 2015-16 season and 242 million boxes in 2003-04, the last season unaffected by greening or hurricanes.

“I hope that scenario is not more likely,” Spreen said. “It’s a very scary picture. There’s no other way to put it.”

One factor affecting yields on greening-infected trees has been a significant increase in the levels of pre-harvest fruit drop, which began appearing in the 2011-12 season. Other factors include smaller fruit size, which means more fruit to fill a standard box, thus a lower total harvest.

But the most optimistic scenario makes some big assumptions, including investing at least $500 million in planting new trees at a 255 percent replanting rate over the number of trees lost each season, he said. Growers would need to sustain that rate every year over the next decade.

The current replanting rate is 50 percent, largely because many growers are unwilling to make the investment until researchers find better methods against greening.

Even at that aggressive replanting rate, Florida growers would produce just 100 million orange boxes in 2026-27, or less than half the production 12 years ago.

Florida growers can achieve the optimistic scenario, said Spreen, citing high levels of replanting in the late 1980s and early 1990s following three major destructive freezes in 1983 to 1989.

But it would take a scientific breakthrough in breeding a new citrus tree that is tolerant or resistant to greening, he added. Tolerance means the tree would get infected but suffer less damage, notably yield loss, and resistance means the tree would be less susceptible to infection.

“We just need that light at the end of the tunnel to show up, and then we’ll see a burst of new planting similar to what we saw in the 1980s,” Spreen said.

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Fewer National Citrus Shipments Seen This Season

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dscn4665Fewer 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.



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NY Apples; 26% Fewer FL Orange Shipments are Seen

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DSCN7456Apple shippers in upstate New York will be more comfortable with a forecast once they get through August.  Meanwhile, an early forecast doesn’t predict any good times for Florida citrus shipments.

New York apple shippers are reluctant to put on estimate on their crop this season.  After all, farmers get spooked easily, don’t want to jinx the crop, and are all too aware of what Mother Nature may have planned.  Once we get into September they’ll start loosening up a bit.

Still they remember what history has taught them that a lot can change between April and August, even from July to August.   Into 2015 crop all hell broke loose between July and August.  The USDA’s July 2015 forecast was 26.2 million 42-pound units, or cartons. Its July 2016 final estimate of the 2015 crop just came out at 32.4 million.  That’s a significant increase to market, sell and ship without a lot of notice.  But even that year was just short of 2009’s record crop of 32.6 million.

Florida Citrus Shipments

Florida citrus shippers face a tumultuous year  if a projected 26 percent decline in Florida’s new orange crop for the 2016-17 season pans out.

One recent prediction has Florida orange growers producing only 60.5 million boxes of oranges in the new season, which begins in October, down from 81.5 million boxes in 2015-16.

If that   estimate holds, it will be the smalles Florida orange crop in 53 years since 54.9 million boxes harvested in the 1963-64 season. The next lowest crop was 57.79 million orange boxes in 1949-50.

Florida growers continue to lose the battle against the fatal bacterial disease citrus greening.   Additionally, the fungal disease called “postbloom fruit drop” hit the late-season Valencia orange crop hard during the spring.

Greening results in a tree producing fewer, smaller fruit, meaning fewer boxes are picked.  Infected trees also show a diminished capacity to hold onto mature fruit before harvesting, known as “pre-harvest drop.”

Florida citrus officials consider greening as the primary factor behind the 66 percent drop in the state’s orange harvest from 242 million boxes in the 2003-04 season, the last non-hurricane season before the disease’s 2005 discovery in the state.

The USDA will release its first official crop estimate October 12.

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USDA Makes $22M Available for Citrus Greening Research

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010By USDA

WASHINGTON  – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the availability of $22 million in grants to help citrus producers fight Huanglongbing (HLB), commonly known as citrus greening disease. This funding is available through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program (CDRE), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

“Since 2009, USDA has committed significant resources to manage, research and eradicate the citrus greening disease that threatens citrus production in the United States and other nations,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Thanks to the continued, coordinated efforts between growers, researchers, and state and federal government, we are getting closer every day to ending this threat. The funding announced will help us continue to preserve thousands of jobs for citrus producers and workers, along with significant revenue from citrus sales.”

USDA has invested more than $380 million to address citrus greening between fiscal years 2009 and 2015, including $43.6 million through the SCRI CDRE program since 2015.

HLB was initially detected in Florida in 2005 and has since affected all of Florida’s citrus-producing areas. A total of 15 U.S. states or territories are under full or partial quarantine due to the detected presence of the Asian citrus psyllid, a vector for HLB. Those states include Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

USDA has employed both short-term and longer-term strategies to combat citrus greening. Secretary Vilsack announced a Multi-Agency Coordination framework in December 2013 to foster cooperation and coordination across federal and state agencies and industry to deliver near-term tools to citrus growers to combat Huanglongbing. The Huanglongbing MAC Group includes representatives from the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA NIFA, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Environmental Protection Agency, State Departments of Agriculture from California, Florida, Texas and Arizona, and the citrus industry

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90% of Florida Citrus Acreage is Hit by Greening

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citrusGreeningThe citrus greening disease has infected as much as 90 percent of Florida’s citrus acres.

According to a report from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,  citrus greening, also known as HLB and huanglongbing, has also infected 80 percent of Florida’s citrus trees.

The survey, conducted in March 2015, represents the first grower-based estimates of the level of infection in Florida and the effect it is having on the state’s citrus operations.

About 200 growers to estimate their losses from the disease in a survey by Ariel Singerman, an assistant professor in the Gainesville-based university’s food and resource economics department, and Pilar Useche, an associate professor.

The researchers obtained about 76 completed surveys and the growers surveyed operate approximately 30 percent of Florida’s citrus acreage.

The growers also estimate greening has reduced their yields by 41 percent, according to a news release.

On average for any given Florida citrus operation, greening has affected 90 percent of acreage and 80 percent of trees, according to the survey.

“Even though the industry acknowledges that greening has reached epidemic proportions across the state, estimates of the level of infection and its impact on citrus operations are scarce,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

Greening was first detected in Florida in 2005 and the disease has caused the state to lose about $7.8 billion in revenue, 162,200 citrus acres and 7,513 jobs, according to the report.

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The Rise in Mandarin Shipments is Pretty Amazing

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DSCN7152BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Rimmed by hills and oil derricks, stretch miles of mandarin orange groves along the Maricopa Highway at the southwestern end of the San Joaquin Valley.   These used to be cotton fields, but is now the epicenter of an agricultural boom that has turned mandarins into a rising star.

Since that expansion started in the late 1990s, California’s mandarin plantings have increased 10-fold, from 5,000 to 50,000 acres.  The state now ships 92 percent of the nation’s mandarin crop, while Florida, troubled by citrus greening disease and obsolete varieties with seeds, has had its share drop to 8 percent, from 66 percent.

In the process, thanks to new offerings and skillful marketing, mandarins — popularly known as tangerines — have become very popular with American consumers.  Mandarin consumption has doubled, to five pounds a year for every American, while orange sales have declined.

Native to China and northeastern India, mandarins are one of five original types of citrus (along with pummelos, citrons, kumquats and papedas) from which all others, like oranges and grapefruit, are derived.  Until recently, because most mandarins were relatively small, delicate or full of seeds, they remained less cultivated than other citrus in the United States.

In the late 1990s, two companies with deep pockets and marketing savvy, Sun Pacific and Paramount Citrus (now Wonderful Citrus), gambled big with huge mandarin plantings on the Maricopa Highway, 25 miles southwest of Bakersfield, where they were isolated from other citrus whose pollen could make the fruit seedy.

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