Florida citrus remains hopeful amidst production decline

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Florida citrus remains hopeful amidst production decline

Latest U.S. Department of Agriculture citrus crop forecast for May 2024 shows a 5% decline in all Florida orange production since April, but the state's citrus growers remain hopeful the industry will bounce back.

This month's revised estimate level of oranges is more than the 15.85 million boxes produced at the end of the 2022-2023 citrus harvest season. 

The report shows the decrease is mainly driven by a lower production of both valencia orange and grapefruit.

Valencia orange production is down 8%, and the organization's forecast of valencia orange production lowered 1 million boxes to 11.0 million boxes.

Grapefruit forecast production is still 1.80 million boxes although all grapefruit production is down 10%. 

Florida citrus growers are expected to harvest 17.8 million boxes of oranges this season. 

The Florida citrus industry is making notable strides to increase production over last year, according to a Florida Citrus Mutual press release, citrus growers remain optimistic despite USDA forecast decrease. 

Matt Joyner, Executive Vice President and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, said growers need the grace of time to rebuild. "Fortunately, we have deployed effective treatments and therapies to combat citrus greening and improve tree health, expediting recovery efforts until long-term solutions are available," he said. "Growers continue to see gradual, promising signs of recovery in their groves that offer assurance of hope for the future of Florida's citrus industry." 

Florida Citrus Mutual President and CEO Matthew Joyner told FreshFruitPortal.com that the sector is eager to move on from these challenges.

In April, the United States national orange forecast saw a decrease of 1% in comparison to March, driven from a decline in production in Florida. 

At its peak during the 1997-98 season, the citrus industry produced 244 million boxes of oranges. The USDA’s May forecast for the 2023-2024 harvest season represents just 7.2% of the industry’s peak production.

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