For the first time this season Florida citrus production is expected to remain stable, according to the latest USDA forecast, yet the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma still remains.
"Florida continues to face its lowest citrus forecast in more than 75 years," said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. "While the temporary comfort of a stable forecast gives us a moment to breathe it doesn’t hide the fact that this industry remains in crisis due to the impact of Hurricane Irma."
The USDA report predicts Florida orange production for 2017/18 at 46m boxes of oranges, a 33 per cent decrease over last season.
Florida grapefruit is expected to produce 4.65m boxes, a decrease of 40 per cent. Florida was expected to produce about 75m boxes of oranges this season, according to private estimates.
The Florida citrus industry continues to seek consideration for federal emergency funding to support growers impacted by the hurricane.
In December, the US House of Representatives passed an US$81bn disaster spending bill, which included US$2.6bn for agricultural assistance.
Florida growers reported 30 to 70 per cent crop loss after Hurricane Irma’s landfall on 10 September 2017, with the southwest region of the state receiving the most damage.
The hurricane uprooted trees and left many groves sitting in standing water for up to three weeks, potentially damaging the root systems and impacting future seasons’ growth.
In October, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that Florida Citrus sustained more than US$760m in damages due to Hurricane Irma.