U.S.D.A. raises orange production 2% from February

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its February Crop Production report raised its forecast of 2009-10 U.S. and Florida all orange production by 2% from February.

U.S. all orange production was forecast at 8,101,000 tons (189,587,000 boxes) up 2% from February but down 12% from final utilization of 9,198,000 tons (212,609,000 boxes) in 2008-09.

Florida all orange outturn was forecast at 5,895,000 tons (131,000,000 boxes), also up 2% from February but down 19% from 7,308,000 tons (162,400,000 boxes) a year ago. The Florida frozen concentrated orange juice yield was forecast at 1.53 gallons per box at 42 degrees Brix, down 2% from February and down 8% from 1.66 gallons in 2008-09.

“The (Florida) forecast for early, midseason and navel oranges is raised due to increased utilization,” the U.S.D.A. said. “In response to freezing temperatures in January, growers began harvesting their remaining fruit at an accelerated rate, moving fruit from the grove to processing plants. Plants reported processing more fruit than normal during January and February.”

The trade had expected the Florida forecast to be unchanged or reduced from February. New York frozen concentrated orange juice futures dropped about 1c a lb after the report.

California all orange production was forecast at 2,138,000 tons (57,000,000 boxes), up 4% from February and up 18% from 1,819,000 tons (48,500,000 boxes) in 2008-09.

“Objective survey measurements taken during January and February indicated that fruit set per tree increased significantly compared with last year, while measured average fruit size increased slightly from the previous year,” the U.S.D.A. said.

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