Costa Rica Orange Crop to Rise

Josh McGillCrop Forecast, International

Orange production in Costa Rica is forecast to increase almost 2% in 2022–2023, to 305,000 metric tons (MT), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS). Denser plantings on larger farms have driven up yields, and HLB management programs mitigate the worst impacts of the virus. HLB was first identified in Costa Rica in 2011.

Costa Rica
Photo by Laura Paraschivescu on Unsplash

Harvest is mainly from January to May, with peak production in March and April.

Farmers have gradually increased the number of trees per hectare by using the “Flying Dragon” pattern. This innovation has increased tree density from 300-450 trees/hectare under traditional planting patterns to 800-900 trees/hectare with the Flying Dragon.

The area planted in oranges is expected to remain flat in 2022–23, as the effects of HLB persist and major growers concentrate on improving current area through replanting and irrigation investments. Industry sources estimate area planted in 2022–23 at 21,000 hectares, including area planted on the Nicaraguan side of the border for processing in Costa Rica.

Commercial orange production is concentrated in the northern part of Alajuela province and in the northern part of Guanacaste province. Two companies, TicoFrut and Del Oro, control most of the production and practically all processing of oranges in the country.

Costa Rica imported nearly 78,000 MT of fresh oranges from Nicaragua in 2021, up more than 10% from 2020. Imports from Nicaragua during 2022 reached 46,986 MT in January–March 2022, slightly lower than the same period in 2021. As a result of a cyber attack on Costa Rica’s Ministry of Finance in April 2022, trade statistics are not available for the second quarter of 2022.

Total orange juice [including both single-strength orange juice and frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ)] exports are expected to increase to 35,000 MT in 2022–23, due to stronger export sales to China. Total juice exports to all destinations amounted to 32,671 MT in 2021.

The United States continued to be Costa Rica’s leading destination for orange juice exports in 2022. Costa Rican orange juice enters the United States duty-free under the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement.

Costa Rica exports most of its orange production as FCOJ. Single-strength fresh orange juice exports represent less than 25% of total export volume.

Read the full USDA/FAS report for Costa Rica here.

Source: USDA FAS

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