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Florida citrus forecast improves over last year when hurricanes hit state

Man standing along a path with dead oranges on the ground in the foreground
Chris O'Meara
Fifth generation farmer Roy Petteway looks at the damage to his citrus grove from the effects of Hurricane Ian on Oct. 12, 2022, in Zolfo Springs, Fla. Agriculture losses in Florida from Hurricane Ian's high winds and drenching rains could reach $1.56 billion, with citrus, cattle, vegetable and melon operations among the hardest hit, the University of Florida reported Tuesday, Oct, 18, in a preliminary estimate.

A forecast released Thursday says that Florida is expected to produce 20.5 million boxes of oranges during the 2023-2024 season, up from 15.8 million boxes last season.

The forecast for Florida citrus, the state’s signature crop, is expected to improve in the upcoming season compared to last year when twin hurricanes battered the state at the start of the citrus season, according to estimates released Thursday.

Florida is expected to produce 20.5 million boxes of oranges during the upcoming season, up from 15.8 million boxes last season, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Florida growers are expected to harvest 1.9 million boxes of grapefruit during the 2023-2024 season, which lasts through next spring, up from 1.8 million boxes last season.

The production of tangerines and mandarins also was forecast to be up, going from 480,000 boxes last season to an expected 500,000 boxes in the upcoming season.

Florida had been the leading producer of oranges in the U.S. until last season when the state was battered by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. California surpassed the Sunshine State in orange production.

The decline in orange production made the 2022-23 season one of the worst since World War II. The harvest was 41.2 million boxes in 2021-2022 and more than 52.9 million the season before that. Even before the hurricanes, citrus production had been on a downward trajectory because of ongoing disease problems.

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