WASHINGTON — In its initial report for the new season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Oct. 12 forecast the 2017-18 Florida orange crop at 2,430,000 tons (54 million 90-lb boxes), down 21% from 3,094,000 tons in 2016-17 and the lowest since 1946-47.
The Florida orange crop has declined every year since 2011-12, with production down 63% during the period and down 79% from peak production of 10,980,000 tons (244 million boxes) in 1997-98. Citrus groves were devastated by citrus greening disease in recent years, with this year’s sharp decline attributed mostly to losses from Hurricane Irma in September. Although the storm weakened after making landfall, it still was “wreaking havoc on the entire citrus region as it passed,” the U.S.D.A. said.
The total U.S. orange crop in 2017-18 was forecast at 4,340,000 tons, down 16% from 5,164,000 tons in 2016-17. California orange production was forecast at 1,840,000 tons, down 9% from 2,012,000 tons in 2016-17, and Texas production at 70,000 tons, up 20% from 58,000 tons.The Florida crop is used mainly for processing (juice) and the California crop mainly goes to the fresh market.