Citrus update: orange production holding steady, grapefruit and tangerine production sees anticipated downtick

by | Mar 8, 2024

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday forecasted a stable orange production of 19.8 million boxes for Florida, a 25 percent increase from the previous season, against the backdrop of decreased grapefruit and tangerine/tangelo outputs.

Florida’s citrus industry’s is in line for a steady production output of orange production, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast, after the previous month’s estimates showed depressed estimates.

Overall Orange Production remains unchanged from the February forecast at 19.8 million boxes, marking a 25 percent increase over the previous season. This includes 6.80 million boxes of non-Valencia oranges and 13.0 million boxes of Valencia oranges. The stability in orange production contrasts with decreases in other citrus fruits, notably an 8 percent drop in all grapefruit production to 2.20 million boxes and a 9 percent decrease in tangerine and tangelo production to 500,000 boxes.

The downturn is largely attributed to grapefruit and tangerine/tangelo production agricultural outputs, influenced by factors such as weather conditions, disease, and market demands.

In a presentation given to the Florida Senate last year, the Florida Department of Citrus told lawmakers that more than 375,000 acres of commercial citrus farms faced difficulties due to hurricane or tropical storm-force winds, resulting in between $146.9 million and $304.3 million in production loss. Agency representatives also stated that between 8 and 11 percent of the state’s citrus trees were damaged or destroyed during hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation known as the “Block Grant Assistance Act,” which aims to enhance the allocation of disaster relief funding for agricultural producers affected by natural calamities, potentially bringing millions to Florida citrus growers.

The bill, sponsored by all 28 delegates of Florida, proposed an amendment to the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, allowing the Secretary of Agriculture to distribute assistance for agricultural losses from natural disasters like Hurricane Ian through block grants, replacing the direct disbursement of funds to individual producers.

Agricultural block grants are a form of financial assistance provided by the government to states and territories to support agricultural programs and initiatives. Instead of directly disbursing funds to individual agricultural producers, the government allocates a fixed amount of money as a block grant to eligible states. The states then have the flexibility to distribute these funds among agricultural producers based on their specific needs and priorities.

“It’s no secret that Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole left the heart of citrus country with a long road to recovery, but Florida growers have worked to recover from extreme weather before, and this year is no exception,” said the Florida Department of Citrus. “[We are] working alongside industry leaders and elected officials to help ensure Florida citrus growers have the assistance necessary while they continue to replant, rebuild, and work toward long-term solutions in the industry’s fight.”

In an attempt to ward off citrus greening, a crop disease, the University of Florida secured a total of $5 million from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in October to advance research preventative measures.

The allocation, divided into five grants, will support various research strategies to develop citrus varieties resistant or tolerant to greening, which has marred Florida’s growers with significant difficulties in crop production over the past decade. When a tree becomes infected, it produces fruits that remain green, become misshapen, and taste bitter.

Citrus greening has severely affected Florida’s multibillion-dollar citrus industry, leading to decreased yields and forcing many producers to uproot and replant entire orchards, thereby raising production costs.


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