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USDA predicts slightly larger citrus crop in 2012-13

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the Florida citrus crop would increase about 5 percent to 154 million boxes during the 2012-13 season.

The forecast is the USDA’s first of the season; it is revised monthly until the end of the season in July.

“The figure released by the USDA today is smaller than the private estimates circulating around the industry,” Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual, said in a press release. “It’s certainly a manageable crop for Florida citrus growers, and I am hopeful at this size the market will continue to put upward pressure on fruit pricing. It’s going to be another good year, and our growers will continue to produce the best citrus products in the world.”

Mr. Sparks made his comments after Florida Citrus Mutual’s annual crop estimate breakfast held at Ray-Bob Groves outside of Bartow. The event, which drew about 60 growers, featured U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam as well as state legislators Steve Crisafulli and John Wood.

During the 2011-12 season, Florida produced 146.6 million boxes of oranges. The USDA’s 2012-13 early-mid estimate is 74 million boxes. The Valencia forecast is 80 million boxes, up from the 72.4 million boxes produced in 2011-12.

For Florida specialty fruit, the USDA predicts 1.2 million boxes of tangelos and 4.4 million boxes of tangerines. Those numbers are up slightly from last season.

The yield for from-concentrate orange juice is 1.61 gallons per 90-pound box. The USDA predicted that Florida would harvest 20.3 million boxes of grapefruit in 2012-13, an increase from last season’s final total of 18.85 million boxes. The complete USDA estimate is available at www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/cpfp.htm.