USDA forecasts record lows for U.S. citrus crop
The 2021-22 U.S. citrus crop is expected to finish at 6 million tons, a 13 percent drop compared to the previous season as production falters in major citrus growing regions, and would be the smallest in more than 50 years.
According to the USDA Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook for March 2022, declines in overall U.S. citrus crop are due to smaller orange and grapefruit crops in California, Florida and Texas, as well as smaller mandarin crops in California and Florida.
All orange production in the state of California is expected to decline by 5 percent, with a 4 percent reduction in non-Valencia oranges and a 9 percent reduction in the Valencia category, compared to last season.
Florida’s orange supply forecast dropped by 5 percent from February 2022 forecasts, and is expected to be 22 percent below last season. This brings it below levles seen in 2017-18, when the state was hit by Hurricane Irma. Decreased production of oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines are expected to result in increased imports and higher prices compared to last year
The overall low supplies of oranges boosted prices. February 2022 retail prices for navel oranges were US $1.45 per pound, a 9.4 percent increase from February 2021.
An all-time low supply of orange juice from Florida, the dominant supplier, is putting upward pressure on prices. This increase represents the highest for orange juice prices since 2017, when Hurricane Irma decreased supply in Florida.
Lemons is the only citrus commodity forecast to reach production levels above last season, at 976,000 tons, 10 percent higher than last season.