Florida citrus crop expected to grow for first time in five seasons

Citrus consultant Elizabeth Steger has some good news for a Florida citrus industry desperately seeking it. The consultant’s widely watched preseason forecast shows Florida orange growers can expect a crop of 75.5 million boxes in the upcoming 2017-18 season.

If Steger is correct, that would represent a 10 percent increase in the state’s 2016-17 orange crop of 68.7 million boxes, according to the last monthly update from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in July. It would also mark the first time the state’s orange crop increased after five seasons of declines.

“Steger’s estimate is positive news for Florida’s citrus industry,” said Bob Behr, CEO of Florida’s Natural Growers in Lake Wales, the nation’s third largest retailer of orange juice. “Throughout the summer, growers have been indicating that groves are looking much better, and the fruit set appeared to be larger than the prior year.”

“I am cautiously optimistic that we have seen the bottom as far as production and now we are in rebound mode as an industry,” said Mike Sparks, the chief executive at Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Mutual, the growers’ trade group.

“We need to get production back up over 100 million boxes so we can support the important infrastructure that makes us an $8.6 billion industry supporting 46,000 jobs.”

Read more at heraldtribune.com

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