The Florida Citrus Commission (FCC) on Feb. 22 reduced processed orange maturity standards for the remainder of this season due to the negative effects of 2022’s Hurricane Ian. The emergency rule, proposed by the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC), requires that all processed oranges have a Brix value of no less than 7.0. The rule also stipulates that there shall be no minimum ratio of total soluble solids to anhydrous citric acid. The rule took effect Feb. 23 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on May 23.
FCC members are appointed by Florida’s governor and serve as the governing board for the FDOC.
The FDOC reported that due to Hurricane Ian, significant amounts of the Florida orange crop will have a ratio of solids to citric acid below the 9-1 minimum established by rule. It said the current rule would prevent growers from selling fruit that does not meet the current minimum ratio of solids to citric acid. The FDOC added that industry leaders requested the emergency rule.
FCC Chairman Steve Johnson said he thought lowering the Brix to 7.0 with no ratio requirement would be a bit extreme. He said it would send a negative message that the FCC is not holding the industry to a standard. He suggested that the FCC instead make the same changes that were made last year during a freeze, lowering the Brix to 8.0 with the ratio at 8.5. But Commissioner Marty McKenna requested that the FCC move forward with the rule as presented by the FDOC, and Johnson joined all other commissioners to make the vote unanimous.
While the FCC’s emergency rule is for fruit going into juice, the federal Brix minimum standard for not-from-concentrate orange juice is also a concern for the Florida citrus industry.
Source: Florida Department of Citrus
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