Elizabeth Steger has released her estimate for the 2016-2017 Florida citrus season. The numbers from her consulting firm are considered the first unofficial prediction of how the next crop is shaping up. This year’s estimate illustrates the ravages that citrus greening continues to have on Florida’s signature crop.
“We are adopting a crop forecast of 60.5 million boxes of oranges in the state of Florida,” Steger noted in a news release. “We are estimating a total of 29.5 million boxes of early/midseason varieties (including navels) and 31 million boxes of ‘Valencia’ oranges. This is 21 million boxes less than last season or 25.7% less.”
She noted the decline in the crop was worsened by post bloom fruit drop, which is significant in many groves. That, combined with the continued spread of HLB, account for the dramatic decline estimated for the 2016-2017 season.
The USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service will release its official citrus estimate on Oct. 12.
For the 2015-2016 orange crop, Steger had forecasted a 93.5 million box production. USDA’s final tally put the crop at 81.5 million boxes.