Citrus production forecast to drop

Florida’s signature citrus industry is facing another production squeeze, while growers might soon be asked to pay more to help market their products.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday forecast a 15% decline in orange production for the recently started growing season as compared to the last harvest. Grapefruit production is projected to be down 7%.

That translates, in part, to a projected 57 million 90-pound boxes of oranges during the new 2020-2021 season, down from 67.3 million boxes in 2019-2020.

If the projection holds, orange production would decline for the second straight year. But state leaders offered encouragement Friday about the industry, which has been hammered in recent years by factors such as a deadly bacterial disease.

“Since late spring, the Florida citrus industry has anticipated the 2020-21 citrus crop to be smaller than the prior season, and today confirms that assumption,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a prepared statement. “However, Florida citrus production is a marathon, not a sprint, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stands committed to help strengthen and promote Florida-grown citrus.”

Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, said the forecast might

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