Fruit drop plagues Florida's citrus crop

12/11/2012 11:51:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

orangeHigh fruit drop and small non-valencia orange size have conspired to create a smaller-than-expected orange crop.

That was evident in the Dec. 11 U.S. Department of Agriculture citrus forecast that projected a non-valencia crop of 67 million 90-pound boxes, down 7 million boxes from the October forecast, according to a news release.

The valencia crop is projected at 79 million boxes. Overall, the orange crop is down 5 percent from October and 600,000 boxes less than last year's production.

Individual fruit size for non-valencia varieties, which include early, mid, navel and temple, is near the minimum and expected to remain so at harvest.

Fruit drop is steadily increasing and projected to be the highest since the 1969-70 season.

The navel crop, the bulk of which goes fresh, is forecast at 1.9 million boxes, down 300,000 boxes since October.

Fruit drop also has been a problem and may be the highest since the 1990-91 season.

The valencia forecast was reduced by 1 million boxes from October.

As with the other varieties, valencia fruit size is slightly above the minimum and expected to remain there.

The projection for

Although fruit drop is slightly above average, it is not expected to climb much higher.

The grapefruit forecast also was reduced, dropping 2.3 million 85-pound boxes to 18 million boxes.

Fruit size is below the minimum, and drop is above the maximum.

Small fruit size and high fruit drop also has plagued the tangerine crop.

As a result, the USDA reduced the crop forecast by 600,000 boxes to 3.8 million boxes.

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