Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association Executive Director Steve Smith reacts to the first U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) citrus crop forecast of the season and says growers are focused on recovering from Hurricane Irma.
He says the forecast of 54 million boxes of Florida oranges “was a little higher than I anticipated, considering the extent of the damage across the state (from Hurricane Irma) and everything we’re documenting. But USDA does the best they can with the short amount of time they had to try to count this thing … I don’t think it’s a number that we can really count as highly accurate at this point … The Valencias are still falling, the earlies (early-season oranges) are still falling some. You’ll see some big adjustments, I think, on the monthly forecasts.”
Smith adds that some nurseries lost roofs during Hurricane Irma. “But a lot of their stock is intact,” he says. “So there’ll be some trees available, and there’s growers looking for trees.”
Growers are intent on recovering after Hurricane Irma, Smith says. “Everything I’ve heard is, ‘How do we move forward and recover? Where do we get trees? What do we do with the crop that’s on the tree now?’ We had a grower meeting here recently and that was the topic of the discussion. There was certainly no giving up.”
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