Latest forecast show drop in orange, grapefruit production

Orange and grapefruit production declined in the latest monthly forecast for the ongoing season.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s March forecast, released Tuesday, reduced the projected orange production by slightly more than 1 percent, from a February forecast of 72 million 90-pound boxes to 71 million boxes. The industry uses 90-pound boxes as a standard measurement.

The forecast had been at 74 million boxes in January, for the season that runs from September through July. A year ago, the state produced 71.6 million boxes of oranges. Meanwhile, the latest report showed projected grapefruit production down 8.5 percent, to 5.4 million boxes.

The grapefruit forecast grew 10 percent from January to February, to 5.9 million boxes. The Florida Department of Citrus called the forecast a sign of overall “stabilization” for the hard-hit industry.

“Today’s forecast indicates an industry that remains in transition, but is cautiously optimistic for a bright future,” Department of Citrus Executive Director Shannon Shepp said in a press release. The new forecast kept the state’s citrus specialty crops, primarily tangerines and tangelos, at 1.05 million boxes.