The Department of Agriculture says Florida will produce four million less boxes of oranges than previously estimated. The decline, attributed to damage from Hurricane Irma, has USDA predicting Florida will produce 46 million boxes of oranges.
The decline doubles a previous decrease indicated by USDA in October. A survey of growers conducted post Irma pegged total fruit loss at almost 60 percent with some reports of 100 percent fruit loss in the Southwest part of the state. Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Michael Sparks told the Palm Beach Post: “This is exactly what we thought would happen as the true damage begins to rear its ugly head in the groves across Florida.”
The forecast from USDA this week represents a decline of more than 80 percent since the peak of citrus production at 244 million boxes during the 1997-98 season.