Private consultant Elizabeth Steger on Aug. 16 forecast Florida will produce 52 million boxes of oranges in the 2021-22 season — 1.5% less than the 52.8 million boxes produced in 2020-21.
Steger projected 20.8 million boxes of early-midseason oranges; that’s less than the 22.7 million boxes produced last season. Her Valencia projection is 31.2 million boxes; that’s more than the 30.1 million boxes produced last season.
She estimated early/mid-season oranges and Valencias will yield 1.09 and 1.03 boxes per tree, respectively. “I was hoping for a good rebound in the fruit-per-tree production, but it did not happen, especially in the Central region where there was a significant fruit-per-tree reduction,” she wrote.
If Steger had expected the same level of fruit drop that occurred last season, “we would have estimated a much lower crop,” she stated. “However, we do not know if last year’s lower drop was related to climatic conditions, greening, soil treatments or tree health.” She said the amount of rain will affect the final fruit size.
Although Steger’s forecast is for 52 million boxes of oranges, she considered various scenarios that indicated the state’s orange crop could range from 49 to 56 million boxes. She wrote that “the forecast range is as important as the estimate due to the large variance.”
“It is my desire that government and private institutions join their resources to increase plantings, eradicate as much as possible sick trees and increase research fundings,” Steger concluded.
In related recent news, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor emeritus Tom Spreen offered projections for future Florida orange and red grapefruit production. Under Spreen’s best-case scenario, orange production would stay below the 2020-21 season level of 52.8 million boxes through the 2028-29 season. It would be 2029-30 before output reached 53.2 million boxes, barely surpassing the 2020-21 production level. To achieve the best-case scenario, growers would have to replant lost trees much more aggressively than they have in recent years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will release its first forecast of the 2021-22 citrus season at 12 p.m. on Oct. 12.
Source: Elizabeth Steger
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