While production forecasts most of Florida’s citrus fruit categories have remained stable in the February update from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the orange estimate has continued on its downward path.
The latest report pegs the state’s orange crop at 45 million boxes – 2% down on the January estimate and 35% lower than the 2016-17 season.
As well as Florida’s ongoing crisis with the devastating citrus greening disease, Hurricane Irma ravaged citrus groves last September when it made its way up through the state.
The non-Valencia orange forecast is 19 million boxes, which is unchanged since January but 42% down year-on-year, while the Valencia estimate is 26 million boxes, putting it 4% lower than the previous forecast and 27% down year-on-year.
The grapefruit forecast has remained stable since January at 4.7 million boxes, but 40% down on the previous season.
California’s orange forecast, meanwhile, is 9% lower year-on-year at 46 million boxes, putting it slightly higher than Florida.
Last week U.S. Congress approved an agriculture disaster package that will send billions of dollars in relief to Florida growers.
The package, passed as part of the federal budget deal, provides a total of US$3.6 billion to the USDA, around two-thirds of which will be used to make direct payments to Florida producers who’ve suffered hurricane-related crop losses last year.
The Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM) said citrus’ share is expected to be US$760 million.