California is projected to surpass Florida in orange production for the second consecutive year, potentially becoming the leading state in citrus farming. Florida, traditionally the dominant orange-growing state, is expected to produce approximately 837,000 tons of oranges in the 2023/24 marketing year, a 30% increase from the previous year. On the other hand, California is anticipated to produce 1.66 million tons.
While California's production aligns with its usual output, Florida continues to grapple with challenges such as cold snaps, greening disease, and recovery from significant hurricane damage. "Florida is having colder winters and more storms, this creates harder situations for the crops to recover," stated Peter Mooses, a commodities trader based in Chicago.
Florida oranges, predominantly used for juice production due to their thinner skin, contrast with California oranges which are better suited as table fruit. "Virtually 100% of our fruit is grown for the fresh market," said Casey Creamer, CEO of California Citrus Mutual. He also noted that if Florida continues to lag in orange production, the juice market is likely to shift towards more Brazilian and Mexican production.
The USDA projects a nearly 30% rise in U.S. orange juice production, to 110,000 tons, thanks to anticipated improvements in Florida's output this marketing year.