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Florida orange crop forecast decreases

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's monthly forecast of the 2013-14 Florida orange crop decreased slightly to 114 million boxes. The USDA estimated early-mid orange varieties down 1 million to 53 million boxes, while Valencias remained at 61 million boxes.

"Everybody in the industry understands fruit drop has been an issue this season with our earlier varieties," Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual, said in a press release. "So it's somewhat encouraging we lost less than 1 percent off the estimate this month. Maybe we've found some stability as we move into our Valencia harvest.

"Despite the challenges we face, Florida growers continue to produce the best citrus products in the world," he said.

The USDA 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 initial estimate until Friday, Nov. 8.

During the 2012-13 season, Florida produced 133.6 million boxes of oranges. Visit http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/cpfp.htm for the complete USDA estimate.

The USDA's estimate of the 2013-14 Florida grapefruit crop dipped 500,000 boxes to 16 million. Specialty fruit is now at 4.15 million boxes, down 150,000. The yield for frozen concentrate orange juice (FCOJ) remained the same at 1.61 gallons per 90-pound box.

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

Florida Citrus Mutual, founded in 1948, is the state's largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com. To receive winter weather updates follow FCM on Twitter.