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Florida citrus dips in latest forecast

Both orange and grapefruit estimates are down according to the USDA

Florida citrus dips in latest forecast

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Both Florida orange and grapefruit production dropped slightly in the latest forecast released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA’s May report estimated orange production for 2017/18 at 44.95m boxes, a 50,000 box decrease from last month, while grapefruit production was also reduced by 50,000 boxes, to 3.95m boxes.

The reductions were in Navel oranges and white grapefruit, according to the USDA.

“With everything Florida citrus growers have gone through this year, we consider today’s forecast to be relatively stable and not unexpected,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. “This is an industry choosing to remain optimistic about the future. And part of that optimism comes from the support we’ve received from policy makers, industry and consumers.”

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

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 US$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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