US national citrus forecast hit by Valencia decline

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US national citrus forecast hit by Valencia decline

The United States national orange forecast is down 1% this month in comparison to March, but still up 7% from the 2022-23 season. 

The lower forecast results from a decrease in production in just one state, Florida. The USDA's April citrus forecast attributes Florida's dip mostly to a decrease in production of Valencia oranges, often referred to as “juice oranges,” and grapefruit. 

Florida's Valencia orange production is down to 12,000 boxes, an 8% decrease from the previous month, but up 24% from last season’s numbers. Oranges are the most widely grown citrus in Florida and the Valencia variety makes up most of the sector.

The state's orange juice production has been in a steady decline due to citrus greening disease, HLB. The disease affects the sweetness and color of oranges, leaving larger portions of Florida's crop ineligible for juice production. National regulations establish juice oranges must reach a Brix level of 10.5 degrees. 

A USDA Row Count survey conducted at the end of March showed that 51% of the Valencia crop has been harvested, and the fruit size was below average. 

The state also saw a 9% decrease in grapefruit production, from 2.2 million boxes in March to 2 million in April. Other citrus production remained unchanged for non-Valencia oranges at 6.8 million boxes, and tangerine and tangelos at 500,000 boxes. 

Texas saw a 50,000 box increase in Valencia orange production and 100,000 in non-Valencia oranges. California did not see an increase in its orange production but saw a 300,000 growth in grapefruit and 1,000 in lemon.

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