After Effects of Freeze Put Big Squeeze on Florida Citrus Crop Forecast

If one was wondering what a late January cold snap would do to the Florida citrus crop estimate going forward, wonder no more. The latest crop forecast from USDA shows a 5% decrease in the all-orange crop from last month’s report. That’s the largest single-month drop this season.

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The official estimate now stands at 41.2 million boxes of oranges, an amount that would be more than 20% less than last season’s final production tally. Valencias took a big hit, dropping 3 million boxes from last month down to 23 million. Though the Valencia harvest is still in early stages, observations in groves are indicating a long road to hoe. According to the report, “Current fruit size is below the minimum and is projected to be below the minimum at harvest, requiring 271 pieces to fill a 90-pound box. Current droppage is above the maximum and projected to be above the maximum at harvest.”

The early season, non-Valencia varieties, which are nearly all accounted for, actually went up slightly (+700,000 boxes) to 18.2 million boxes.

And despite holding steady for most of the season, grapefruit estimates also took a tumble in the March USDA forecast. It fell 5% from February, and now is forecast at 3.9 million boxes – 200,000 boxes less than last season’s final count.

USDA’s next Florida citrus crop estimate is scheduled to release on April 8. The season will conclude with the last report in July.

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