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USDA anticipates Florida orange crop to decrease

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its initial forecast pegging the 2013-14 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 vice president and chief executive officer 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 2012-13 season, Florida produced 133.6 million boxes of oranges.

The complete USDA estimate is available at http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/cpfp.htm.

The estimate of the 2013-14 Florida grapefruit crop is 17.8 million boxes, down from 18.35 million. Specialty fruit checked in at 4.75 million boxes. The  yield for frozen concentrate orange juice was 1.60 gallons per 90-pound box.