WASHINGTON — In its initial report for the new season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Oct. 12 forecast the 2016-17 Florida orange crop at 3,150,000 tons (70 million 90-lb boxes), down 14% from 2015-16 and the lowest since 1963-64.
With last year’s crop of 3,672,000 tons (81.5 million boxes), the forecast Florida crop is the second consecutive lowest since 2,623,500 tons (58.3 million boxes) in 1963-64 and the second lowest after 1963-64 since 3,028,500 tons (67.3 million boxes) in 1950-51.
Florida’s crop has been devastated in recent years by citrus greening disease. Bearing area has dropped from a high of 624,900 acres in 1997 to 387,000 acres in 2016, the lowest since 1988.
The total U.S. orange crop was forecast at 5,228,000 tons, down 12% from 5,911,000 tons in 2015-16. California orange production was forecast at 2,020,000 tons, down 7% from 2015-16, and Texas production at 58,000 tons, down 20% from last year.The Florida crop is used mainly for processing (juice) and the California crop mainly goes to the fresh market.