Australia forecasts lower citrus volumes, but better sizes

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Australia forecasts lower citrus volumes, but better sizes

Growers' body Citrus Australia is predicting slighter lower orange volumes this season but better sized fruit, which will allow more volumes to be sold as export grade.

The organization said it looked like fruit sizes would be two counts larger than last year's peak, or 5-6mm bigger.

A Sunraysia citrus grower described the forthcoming season as "the best crop I have seen in many years", according to a release from the organization.

The navel crop is expected to reach 205,000 metric tons (MT), down from 250,000MT last season. The tri-state region will produce 195,000MT of this total.

The Valencia crop will be down to 175,000MT from 235,000MT, with around 165,000MT of this coming from the tri-state region.

Citrus Australia said the outlook was also positive for mandarin growers in all regions.

"The Queensland crop has better fruit size and much improved rind quality. Fruit numbers are less, but better size will result in a similar crop volume of Imperials and Murcotts to 2011 – the key difference being that larger, cleaner fruit will allow for more of the crop to be sold as Class 1 or Export grade fruit," the organization said.

The national mandarin crop is expected to reach about 100,000MT, representing a 10,000MT fall on last year.

In southern regions, Afourer mandarins are carrying a moderate crop with better fruit size than last year.

Citrus Australia reported tonnages of Afourer are trending upwards as young plantings mature, but said volumes would not increase this season as dramatically as expected due to  hail in key growing areas last season.

The lemon and lime crop is expected to be the same as last year at 28,000MT, while grapefruits are predicted to show a 12.5% year-on-year decrease to 7,000MT.

Related stories: Australian citrus crop looks 'lighter', but still early days

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