While Florida citrus farmers continue to shake off post-storm stress, the season’s production picture is starting to take more of a definitive shape. And even though Hurricane Irma might be long gone, many trees are still in recovery mode – slowed that much more by the persistent pressure from greening.
Forecasters from USDA are trying to take all factors into account. The agency’s updated 2017-2018 Florida all-orange crop estimate now stands at 45 million boxes, down 1 million boxes from last month’s estimate and 35% off last season’s tally.
Figures for early- and mid-season varieties remained the same, but the Valencia category took a hit. According to the USDA report, current Valencia fruit size is below average and is projected to be below average at harvest. In addition, current fruit drop is above the maximum and projected to be above the maximum at harvest.
The grapefruit outlook remains unchanged for now at 4.65 million boxes, which is down considerably from last season and a far cry from the record haul of 49.5 million boxes during the 1997-1998 campaign.
The next USDA citrus crop estimate is scheduled to release on March 8.