Total orange production in Australia is expected to increase to 480,000 tonnes during the 2009/10 season, significantly up on the estimated final yield of 440,000 tonnes for the previous year.
That is the verdict of a new GAIN report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which cites a return to average weather conditions coupled with improved supplies of irrigation water as reasons for the improved crop size.
Production increases are likely to be greatest in the Riverland and in the Murray Valley, both key Navel orange producing areas, following severe drought conditions in 2008/09.
Exports during 2009/10 are expected to increase to 130,000 tonnes, the USDA said, up from the previous season's estimated total of 113,000 tonnes.
During 2008/09, Hong Kong surpassed the US as the largest importer of Australian oranges (on a year-ending August basis), with the relative strengthening of the Australian dollar in relation to the US dollar.
However, the recent devaluation of the Australian dollar is likely to see a shift back towards the US market in 2009/10, the USDA said.
Volumes of orange imports are expected to remain small, dropping to 15,000 tonnes, with nearly all of the country's imports coming from the US.