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USDA says Florida orange crop projected to hold steady

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

Florida’s production of orange crop will hold steady at 72 million boxes for the 2016-17 season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Friday.

The “all orange” forecast, equal to 3.24 million tons, is “unchanged from last month but down 12 percent from last season’s final utilization,” the department’s latest forecast says.

Moreover, the Florida frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ) forecast for 2016-2017 is “down 2 percent from last month but up 2 percent from last season’s final yield of 1.41 gallons per box.”

But the report also predicts a slight decrease in the state’s grapefruit production, down 3 percent to 9.3 million boxes.

“In the past couple of seasons we’ve seen dramatic drops in the estimate during the early months following the October forecast,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus.

The FDOC, funded in part by box taxes paid by the state’s citrus growers, serves as the chief marketing and promotion arm for the industry.

“The fact that we remain stable is a positive sign for growers and consumers as we continue to provide the world’s best 100 percent orange juice,” Shepp added.

The state’s citrus industry has been hurt by the citrus greening epidemic. The so-far incurable disease is attacking fruit, causing it to turn green and bitter, and eventually killing the tree. Florida’s famous oranges are most at risk.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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