Optimism in the Forecast as Florida Citrus Season Starts
The 2018-2019 citrus season has officially kicked off in Florida with USDA’s initial crop forecast. And at first blush, the outlook from the government agency is quite encouraging. Early estimates are pegging all oranges (including early, midseason, navel, and Valencia) at 79 million boxes. This would be a 76% increase over last season’s final output of 44.95 million boxes.
Despite last season being historically difficult for Florida citrus growers — thanks in large part to Hurricane Irma’s impact on top of the ongoing citrus greening scourge — there was a renewed sense of optimism heading into this campaign. Pre-season prognostications painted a glowing picture for orange production in the Sunshine State with Bloomberg analysts computing an eye-popping 70 million box total. On top of that, local citrus economist Elizabeth Steger’s report upped the ante at 77 million boxes.
In response to the uplifting citrus crop forecast, Florida Citrus Mutual Executive VP/CEO Mike Sparks provided the following statement: “It’s been a very difficult year for growers no doubt, and it’s good to hear production for this season is expected to be up.”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam echoed Sparks’ sentiment, stating: “This citrus production forecast offers a glimmer of hope to Florida’s iconic citrus industry.”
For 2018-2019, USDA also is estimating a sizable uptick in the state’s struggling grapefruit crop at 6.7 million boxes, which is a 73% bump over last season’s total of 3.88 million boxes. During the 1997-1998 season, a record-setting 49.5 million boxes were harvested.
“We still have significant work to do to increase production back to a point where we can support infrastructure and generate the income necessary to keep growers in business,” Sparks continued.
USDA will update its report monthly. The next forecast is scheduled to release on November 8.