The season’s first official Florida citrus forecast shows declines in orange and grapefruit production but big gains in tangerines.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nov. 8 report, Florida growers may harvest the fewest number of oranges since the 1989-90 freeze year.
The USDA forecasts the 2013-14 season to bring 125 million 90-pound equivalent boxes of oranges, 6 percent less than last season.
Navels and midseasons are forecast to decline 5 percent and 14 percent, respectively, while the later-season valencias are predicted to see a 1 percent increase.
For grapefruit, total Florida production is forecast at 17.8 million 85-pound boxes, down 3 percent from the previous season.
White grapefruit is predicted to sustain the biggest losses with a 9 percent production decline, while colored or red grapefruit is forecast to be down 1 percent from last year.
Total Florida tangerine production is predicted to increase 14 percent with sunburst tangerines forecast to increase by that much and the honeys, which begin harvesting in January, pegged to jump 24 percent.
Kevin Swords, Florida citrus sales manager for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, says the report shouldn’t cause significant changes in grower-shippers’ marketing or fruit movement.
He says there are some concerns about fruit drop, which occurred in high levels last season.
“It was hard to react to the droppage in the middle of the deal,” Swords says. “We’re hoping the same thing doesn’t happen this year.”
The USDA says it expects above-average drop for navels, midseasons, grapefruit and sunburst tangerines with average drop for valencias and below-average drop for honeys.
Although a majority of the state’s oranges go to processing, about 70 percent of its navels, half of its grapefruit and two-thirds of its tangerines ship fresh.