It’s fair to say the entire Florida citrus industry has been all hands on deck in its prolonged fight against greening. With the latest extension of Section 18 applications of bactericides for HLB-infected trees, there continues to be hope. The efforts to sustain the sector’s infrastructure remain steadfast. Despite a slight blip, the latest crop estimate from USDA might be an indicator those efforts starting to pay off.
According to USDA, Florida’s all-orange updated estimate came in 71 million boxes (36 million boxes of early, midseason, Navel, and Temple varieties; plus 35 million boxes of Valencias), which is down slightly from last month’s projection of 72 million boxes.
Since the initial estimate in October, January’s figures represent the season’s first decrease. Last year at this time, the opening estimate had already taken several big hits.
For Florida grapefruit, January’s forecast revealed 9 million boxes, down from last month’s 9.3 million box count.
In a statement released to the media, State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said: “The future of Florida citrus, and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports, depends on a long-term solution in the fight against greening. Our brightest minds are working to find a solution, but until then, we must support our growers and provide them every tool available to combat this devastating disease.”
USDA is scheduled to release its next crop report Feb. 9.