The newly released April forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to project a decline in Florida citrus production for the 2021-2022 season.
The USDA forecast released on Friday predicts the Sunshine State will produce 38.2 million boxes of oranges this season — down 7% from last month. The latest numbers are 3 million lower than March projections (41.2), and 28 percent less than last season’s revised final production. The forecast also shows a 300,000 decline in grapefruit, down to 3.6 million boxes from March’s expected 3.9 million boxes.
A more in-depth look at the USDA report shows the forecast of non-Valencia orange production remained unchanged from last month’s forecast of 18.2 million. Valencia orange production, however, was lowered by 3 million boxes from the previous forecast and now sits at 20 million boxes in the updated outlook.
Additionally, USDA’s projected number for tangerines and tangelos also remained unchanged month-to-month, still hovering at 800,000 boxes.
Overall, the industry has been on a decline for nearly two decades because of the deadly citrus greening disease. Citrus greening, otherwise known as Huanglongbing (HLB), has wreaked havoc in Florida for over 15 years and continues to strip the state of its major crop.
The $9 billion-dollar industry produced 230 million boxes of oranges — with all citrus production reaching 287.2 million boxes — just two decades ago.
April’s forecast follows a downward trend since USDA released its initial projections for the 2021-2022 production season. The October report expected Florida to produce 47 million boxes of Florida oranges, 28 million boxes of Valencia oranges, and 19 million of non-Valencia oranges — down 7% from 2020-2021’s final utilization.
The 2021-2022 season regression marks the lowest in decades, and would be the smallest amount since 42.3 million boxes were produced in the 1944-1945 growing season.
The Hurricane Irma-ravaged 2017-2018 season finished with about 49 million boxes.
Last year’s citrus output also fell short of initial season projections.
To view the full USDA citrus report, click here.