The recent Florida orange crop forecast of 74 million boxes met expectations, but the industry has a challenge in moving the crop profitably, says association executive Peter Chaires. Chaires is executive vice president of Florida Citrus Packers, executive director of the New Varieties Development and Management Corp., and manager of the Citrus Administrative Committee.
“It was pretty close to what I expected and pretty close to what most people I talked to (expected) going in,” Chaires says. “I was hearing a lot of numbers, between 72 and 76 (million boxes). So on the orange side I think that came in about where everybody was expecting.” The citrus crop forecast was announced on Oct. 10 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
“Now is the time where we’re going to have to move this crop, and moving it profitably is going to be the challenge for the industry,” Chaires says. “I know the (Florida) Department of Citrus is very engaged on that, looking at the best ways to move forward and apply industry resources to accomplish that, particularly on the processed side.”
Chaires says the forecast indicated there are fewer fruit “but the fruit are going to be a better size. That was pretty good news for most of us,” especially for those working in fresh fruit, he says. He thinks the larger fruit size and “potentially better quality crop will all bode well. So I’m hoping for the best.”
“The grapefruit also came in kind of about what we were expecting,” Chaires adds. That forecast was for 4.6 million boxes in Florida.
The forecast for specialty fruit, consisting of tangelos and tangerines, was 1.05 million boxes. “We’re really not seeing the effects of all the specialty planting we’ve done in the last few years, so I think we’ll start to see that coming in with the numbers in the next few years,” Chaires says.
Hear more from Chaires in this interview with Citrus Industry magazine Editor Tacy Callies:
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