Florida oranges

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revealed that it is now forecasting the 2013/14 Florida orange crop to come in at 121m boxes, down 3 per cent on its initial estimate in October.

In its latest estimate, the USDA pegged early-mid orange varieties at 56m boxes, down 2m on November, and Valencias at 65m boxes, also down 2m – blaming the decrease on fruit drop and smaller sizes.

“HLB (huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease) continues to rear its ugly head and this decrease can be directly attributed to the stress caused by the disease,” said Michael Sparks, executive vice-president and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “This small crop size shows how damaging HLB, or citrus greening, can be and that growers are in a fight for their lives.”

The USDA’s estimate for the 2013/14 Florida grapefruit crop is now 16.7m boxes, down 1.1m from November, while specialty fruit is now at 4.6m boxes, down 150,000.