For Florida citrus growers, the 2017-2018 season just might feel like it will never end. Factoring in Hurricane Irma’s onslaught, combined with the continued grind of greening, many producers wrote this campaign off early. The good news is the end of the season is in sight. In the meantime, USDA continues to observe, report, and revise production estimates.
The latest all-orange crop forecast for Florida indicates no change from last month’s prediction. Since February, USDA has stuck to a 45 million box orange crop forecast, which is 35% down from last season’s final tally. The updated estimate breaks down as follows: 19 million boxes of early, mid-season varieties + 26 million boxes of Valencia.
On a related note, the latest estimate for California orange production (44.5 million boxes) is down, squeezed 8% from last season’s revised final utilization. The 2016-2017 season yielded what was the first time in 70 years that California topped Florida in citrus production. The race for No. 1 appears neck and neck so far this season.
Florida grapefruit didn’t fare as well as oranges in the April estimate. Forecasters now have placed the final output at 4 million boxes, down 14% from last month and a world away from the pinnacle of 49.5 million boxes produced back during the 1997-1998 season.
The next USDA citrus crop estimate is scheduled to release on May 10.