The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released the initial citrus crop forecast for the 2021-22 season. The forecast includes an increase in Specialty Citrus production and decreases in Florida Orange and Grapefruit production. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried offered the following statement:
“Today’s forecast is a testament to the resilience of Florida’s citrus growers, our state’s dedication to our proud citrus industry, and our department’s commitment to innovation in the face of ongoing challenges. Citrus is Florida’s signature crop, full of heart-healthy and immune-boosting vitamins and nutrients that consumers demand as we continue the fight against COVID-19. We remain committed to supporting our citrus producers with research, technology, and techniques to fight the spread of citrus greening. Strengthening our citrus industry takes teamwork, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services appreciates every citrus industry partner and stakeholder that helps grow, support, and promote Florida-grown citrus.”
Forecast: Today’s USDA forecast of 47.0 million boxes of Florida Oranges for the 2021-22 season is down 11 percent from the 52.8 million boxes harvested last season. The USDA also forecast 3.8 million boxes of Florida Grapefruit, down 8 percent from 4.1 million boxes in 2020-21, and 900,000 boxes of Specialty Citrus (such as tangerines) in 2021-22, up 2 percent from 890,000 boxes in 2020-21. This season’s projected decreases are smaller than in the 2020-21 season. The peak of citrus production was 244 million boxes during the 1997-98 season.
The USDA’s final 2020-21 citrus forecast may be viewed here.
Commissioner Fried has been a strong advocate for Florida’s citrus industry, helping secure vital citrus funding in the 2020-21 state budget including $8 million for citrus research projects, $7.4 million for citrus health and fighting pests and diseases, and $19.2 million to pay outstanding Citrus Canker claims to Lee County. In the upcoming 2022-23 state budget, Commissioner Fried has requested $15.6 million to support Florida citrus production, health, and research. Fried also helped establish a state direct-support organization to manage the Citrus Research and Field Trials (CRAFT) program planting 5,000 new acres of citrus groves using experimental techniques, and fought against the Trump Administration’s decision to allow imported Chinese citrus in direct competition with Florida citrus.