The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that citrus industry in Florida produced under the expected yield for the 2020-2021 growing season that ended on Monday.
According to a release by the USDA on Monday, the total yield of all oranges in 2020-2021 was 52.8 million 90-pound boxes. This is 4.2 million fewer boxes than the pre-season forecast in October 2020 of 57 million boxes.
The release states, “the total is comprised of 22.7 million boxes of non-Valencia oranges (early, midseason, and Navel varieties)…, and 30.1 million boxes of Valencia oranges.”
Compared to the 2019-2020 citrus season, the total in 2020-2021 is down 14.9 million boxes from last year’s total, which was 67.7 million boxes.
In addition to oranges, Florida’s citrus industry includes the production of grapefruit, tangerines, and tangelos, which also recorded lower-than-expected numbers for 2020-2021.
The pre-season prediction for grapefruits was 4.5 million boxes (7 percent less than the 2019-2020 season), consisting of 3.8 million boxes of red grapefruit and 700,000 boxes of white grapefruit. The data in the most recent release shows 3.48 million boxes of red grapefruit, and 620,000 boxes of white grapefruit for a total of 4.1 million boxes.
As for tangerines and tangelos, the two types of citrus are grouped together by the USDA and therefore share the same predictions. While grapefruits and oranges decreased in the predicted yield from 2019-2020, the pre-season prediction for tangerines and tangelos actually went up 8 percent from last year’s forecast of 1.02 million to 1.10 million. Even with an uptick in predicted production, like the other citrus, the actual number of tangerine and tangelo boxes produced in 2020-2021 was 890,000.
There are many factors that could contribute to the decrease in production. According to Director of Economic and Market Research for the Florida Department of Citrus, Marisa Zansler, the two main factors are Hurricane Irma that took place in 2017, as well as the bacterial disease in crops called “citrus greening” that became prevalent in 2005.
The upcoming pre-season prediction for the 2021-2022 citrus season will be released on October 12, 2021.
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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]