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Carl Collen

BY CARL COLLEN

Grapefruit down in latest Florida forecast

The state's orange volumes remain steady in the US Department of Agriculture's March forecast

Grapefruit down in latest Florida forecast

Grapefruit volumes are down

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The latest forecast by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has Florida orange production holding steady with a slight decrease in grapefruit production.

The USDA’s March report estimates Florida orange production for 2017/18 to remain at 45m boxes, a 35 per cent decrease over last season and the lowest crop size in more than 75 years.

Florida grapefruit production reduced by 650,000 boxes to 4m boxes, a decrease of 49 per cent over last season, while there was a small increase in Florida specialty fruit, which includes tangerines and tangelos.

“After a season of crisis, our industry finds hope in a new bloom, a new crop, disaster relief on the horizon and the opportunity a new season brings,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus.

Hurricane Irma had a devastating impact on the Florida citrus industry, with growers reporting a 30 to 70 per cent crop loss after the storm's landfall on 10 September 10, 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.

The US Senate and House of Representatives passed federal disaster recovery relief as part of a larger spending bill in February.

In April, the USDA announced it will begin implementing disaster payments of up to $2.36bn in response to 2017 hurricanes and wildfires.

Prior to Hurricane Irma, Florida was expected to produce about 75m boxes of oranges this season, according to private estimates.

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