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USDA says Florida orange crop will decrease

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its initial forecast on Friday pegging the 2013-2014 Florida orange crop at 125 million boxes, down 6 percent from last season.

The USDA estimated early-mid varieties at 58 million, down from 67.1 million at the end of last season, while the Valencia orange total is at 67 million boxes compared to 66.5 million in 2012-13.

"The number shows HLB continues to affect our industry and growers are faced once again with a challenging season," said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. "The good news is that at this size crop, there should be upward pressure on prices."

The USDA usually makes its initial estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly as the crop takes shape until the end of the season in July. However, the federal government shutdown delayed the estimate until Friday Nov. 8.

During the 2012-2013 season, Florida produced 133.6 million boxes of oranges.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $9 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 76,000 people, and covering about 550,000 acres.

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