On October 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the initial citrus crop forecast for the 2020-21 season. Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried offered the following statement:
“When Americans think of wellness and health, their thoughts turn to Florida orange juice and fresh citrus, especially during these unprecedented times. Despite the challenges that Florida’s citrus growers have faced as a result of citrus greening (Huanglongbing disease), I continue to be encouraged by the resiliency of this industry, its producers, and their commitment to new plantings, research, and innovation,” stated Commissioner Fried.
“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. 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.”
Today’s USDA forecast of 57 million boxes of oranges for the 2020-21 season is down 16 percent from the 67.6 million boxes harvested last season. The USDA also forecast 4.5 million boxes of grapefruit and 1.1 million boxes of tangerines in 2020-21. The peak of citrus production was 244 million boxes during the 1997-98 season.
Florida Department of Citrus
“Florida Citrus growers are finding success through innovative mitigation efforts to fight citrus greening in their groves. Today’s forecast is more likely reflective of factors beyond grower control typical of the agricultural growth cycle than any one issue,” said Shannon Shepp, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Citrus.
“While the first forecast of the season serves as a starting point, we recognize that it does not necessarily indicate where we will end up. We are optimistic about the conditions of groves, preparations for the coming season’s crop and continued efforts to combat greening. Florida growers continue to produce the best tasting orange juice in the world, and we are confident consumers can continue to turn to the Original Wellness Drink as we head into the fall and winter seasons.”