The Florida citrus industry’s original October projection for the orange harvest season is ending with a drop in numbers.
The Florida Agricultural Statistics Service released Florida citrus production numbers Thursday and the harvest wasn’t quite as bountiful as originally expected at 67.65 million boxes this year.
“In October, we projected 32 million boxes but ended up 29.65 million” for non-Valencia oranges alone,” said Bill Curtis, agricultural statistics administrator for the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service.
The fall in actual numbers from the projected figures was a “slight decrease,” Curtis said.
In April the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service approved importing five varieties of citrus from China.
Florida U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and other legislative leaders decried the move as a threat to Florida’s citrus industry which has already been damaged by decades of ongoing land development and several years of severe hurricane seasons.
But Curtis said that policy development didn’t play any role in offsetting the state’s citrus projections this year.
“We don’t really go into any of that,” Curtis said. “I don’t foresee any impact based on any agreement.”
“Probably the reason for the larger percentage drop was a good percentage of the fruit did fall off of the trees. That was slightly higher than what we projected in October,” Curtis said. “We don’t really know why exactly… I can’t tell why there was a higher droppage. It wasn’t significantly higher. It was enough to bring the forecast down a little bit.”
“Compared to two years ago, all oranges were 71 million boxes and we’re at 67.65 million boxes. That’s less than it was in 2018-19,” Curtis said.
Grapefruit production in Florida actually went up slightly from original projections in October ending with 4.8 million boxes harvested.