In a development likely to make many in the Florida citrus industry do a double-take, the latest forecast numbers from USDA have the Sunshine State’s 2015-2016 orange crop now pegged at 71 million boxes, up 2 million boxes from last month’s estimate.
This is the first increase in a USDA Florida orange estimate since the final call for the 2014-2015 campaign last July. To put it even more in perspective, this forecast is only the second increase for Florida oranges out of the last 15 estimates from the agency.
The estimated breakdown is as follows: 36 million boxes of early, midseason, Navel, and Temple varieties; plus 35 million boxes of Valencias. The increase was in Valencias.
“We are still in a crisis situation right now in regards to battling the HLB disease although this slight increase is welcome good news,” said Mike Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual.
“Today’s forecast is a bright spot during a trying time for many growers,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. “We know all too well the devastating toll citrus greening continues to take on the industry but look forward to more positive reports in the future as research delivers new tools to wage the war in our groves.”
There was some good news on the grapefruit front, too. The overall grapefruit estimate came in at 10.7 million boxes. This is up slightly from last month’s 10.5 million box count.
The next estimate from USDA is scheduled for April 12.