Fresh citrus shipments from Florida so far in the 2017–18 citrus season have fallen 37 percent below the previous season, reports Citrus Administrative Committee (CAC) Manager Duke Chadwell. “And that percentage has held true from the beginning of the season up until now,” he says. “However, I do anticipate as we move forward that that percentage is going to grow. And I would think that by the end of the season, our fresh fruit shipments will be down in excess of 40 percent for the season when we close the books in May.”
Chadwell says the biggest factor in such a large reduction is Hurricane Irma, which reduced the Florida crop and its quality. Irma hit Florida in September 2017 just as the season was getting started. The hurricane also drastically reduced the amount of fruit going into juice, and severely damaged many citrus trees.
“Our biggest reduction (by percent), and this has happened over the last two or three seasons, is in specialty varieties — tangerines and tangelos,” Chadwell reports. “They’re down 60 percent from last season, followed by grapefruit, down approximately 50 percent. Oranges have held pretty steady.”
The CAC, which administers a federal marketing order for fresh Florida citrus, has nine grower members and eight shipper members. CAC grower elections will be held in conjunction with Florida Citrus Mutual area meetings March 14 in Lake Alfred, March 29 in Fort Pierce and April 11 in Sebring. Shipper elections will be conducted by mail or proxy on March 29.
“We look for diversity in the different small growers, medium and large,” Chadwell says. “We want an array of people involved in the industry.”
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