Members of the Florida citrus industry gathered for lunch on Oct. 12 at Putnam Ranch in Zolfo Springs to hear the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) initial 2021-22 citrus crop forecast. While many growers expected the Florida figures to be similar to the 2020-21 season, some thought the numbers would be even lower. On the other hand, a few growers were optimistic that the numbers would improve.
Bill Curtis, agricultural statistics administrator with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, broadcast the forecast numbers on Southeast AgNet Radio Network affiliate stations to AgNet Media’s Josh McGill.
The Florida orange forecast, at 47 million boxes, is down 11% from last season’s final utilization.
In Florida, early, mid-season and navel varieties (non-Valencias) are forecast at 19 million boxes, down 16% from last season’s final utilization. The Florida Valencia orange forecast, at 28 million boxes, is down 7% from last season’s final utilization.
According to Curtis, the fruit per tree is the lowest on record for both Florida non-Valencias and Valencias. The records date back to the 1964-65 crop. In addition, he said that both types of orange trees this season have smaller fruit size than average.
The California orange forecast is 43.5 million boxes, down from last season’s 50.1 million boxes. The California navel orange forecast is 35 million boxes, down 14% from last season. The California Valencia orange forecast is 8.5 million boxes, a decrease of 11% from last season.
The Texas orange forecast, at 550,000 boxes, is down 48%.
The total U.S. orange forecast for the 2021-22 season is 3.88 million tons, down 12% from the 2020-21 final utilization.
Florida grapefruit production is forecast at just 3.8 million boxes, down from 4.1 million boxes in 2020-21. This represents a 7% decline in the crop. Red varieties are at 3.2 million boxes, while white is at 600,000 boxes.
The forecast for California grapefruit production, 3.9 million boxes, is unchanged from last season and slightly higher than the Florida grapefruit forecast.
Texas grapefruit production is expected to increase, from 2.4 million boxes last season to 3.1 million boxes this season.
TANGERINES AND TANGELOS
Florida tangerine and tangelo production is forecast at 900,000 boxes, up 1% from 890,000 boxes last season.
California tangerines and tangelos are forecast at 21 million boxes, down from 28.1 million boxes last season.
The Arizona lemon crop is forecast to increase from 800,000 boxes to 1.3 million boxes.
California lemon production is expected to be flat, with 21.3 million boxes last season vs. 21 million this season.
The next update to the citrus crop forecast will be on Dec. 9 at approximately 12:00 p.m. on the Citrus Industry website.
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