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Florida Orange Production Continues Decline

Nearly all of Florida’s orange crop is processed into juice.
Balint Radu
Nearly all of Florida’s orange crop is processed into juice.

Production of oranges in Florida continues to drop, with a January forecast down 3.57 percent from a December projection, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Overall, production is now forecast to be down nearly 20 percent from the 2019-2020 growing season.

Florida is forecast to produce enough oranges to fill 54 million 90-pound boxes, the industry standard. That was down from a December projection of 56 million boxes --- and down from 67.3 million boxes during the 2019-2020 season, according to the federal agency.

“While a decline in production is never welcome news, there is positivity to be found elsewhere in the industry,” Florida Department of Citrus Executive Director Shannon Shepp said in a prepared statement. “Grapefruit production is up, growers continue to make great strides against citrus greening and consumers are more focused on health and wellness than ever before.”

Projected grapefruit production was up 4.55 percent from the December forecast and is now projected at 4.6 million boxes. However, that part of the citrus industry remains off 5.15 percent from the 2019-2020 harvest.

The forecast of specialty crops, primarily tangerines and tangelos, was unchanged in January at 1.1 million boxes and remains nearly 8 percent up from the past season.

The Florida Citrus Commission in October voted to increase a tax that growers pay on each box of oranges to help cover a $9.8 million global marketing campaign intended to capitalize on a surge in juice sales spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. About 95 percent of Florida’s orange crop is processed into juice.