Agronometrics in Charts: The light at the end of the tunnel for Florida’s orange industry
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revealed an encouraging outlook for Florida's orange growers, predicting a substantial 30% increase in production compared to the prior season. The official USDA forecast for Florida's entire orange crop stands at an estimated 20.5 million boxes.
While this figure represents a reduction of approximately 8 million boxes in comparison to the initial October 2022 estimate, it notably exceeds the previous season's output of 15.9 million boxes. The preceding season witnessed a decline in orange production, primarily attributed to the enduring repercussions of hurricanes Ian and Nicole, compounded by the ongoing challenges posed by Huanglongbing (HLB) disease. These combined factors led to a reduction in Florida's orange production to levels reminiscent of the World War II era.
Although the USDA's current forecast for Florida's orange production remains somewhat conservative, it does signal the potential for expansion. Hurricane Ian alone caused an estimated $675 million in damages to the state's citrus groves, resulting in the destruction of 9 to 11 percent of Florida's citrus trees, while the surviving ones grappled with flooding in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Notably, California is poised to surpass Florida's orange production in the upcoming season, with USDA projections indicating a production of 44.5 million 80-pound boxes. The Florida Citrus Commission recently approved a revised operating budget of $23.239 million, up $372,000 from the preliminary budget approved in June. The budget for the prior year started at $29.795 million, but was decreased by $776,142 due to Hurricane Ian’s impact on the citrus industry.