Florida's orange crop will shrink this year

Florida's orange crop will decrease this year by 14.5 percent making crop levels lower than previous years.

Combined with current inventory, consistent supplies of high-quality Florida orange juice will be available in the U.S. and international markets.

The 2009 crop estimate, released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, indicates Florida will produce 136 million boxes of oranges, 19.8 million boxes of grapefruit and 5.9 million boxes of specialty fruit which represents a 14.5 percent decline from actual production in the 2008/2009 crop year. Grapefruit production will be down nine percent and specialty citrus will increase 18 percent.

"In spite of the decrease, we believe the ongoing viability of the Florida citrus industry remains strong," said Ken Keck, executive director, Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC). "Today's forecast reflects a lower crop size due to variable weather conditions. There are currently 74.1 million citrus trees in commercial production and the industry continues to contribute close to $9 billion to the state economy."

"The Florida citrus industry has united together over the past 18 months to make significant progress in the battle against greening," Keck commented. More than 100 disease research projects are underway and the newly formed Citrus Research and Development Foundation, Inc. will help commercialize solutions for Florida growers."

The economic environment is slowly displaying positive indicators as consumer confidence begins to rebound, said Robert Norberg, FDOC deputy executive director for research and operations.

"Retailers recognize that orange juice is a critically important product for their shoppers," Norberg stated. "With over 100 million households buying orange juice, retailers are motivated to promote this product more often. During August, we saw a thirteen percent increase in quality retail promotions, such as features and displays versus one year ago. Display space increased by up to nine percent," he added. "Retail promotions are important to the Florida citrus industry because 15 to 20 percent of all orange juice sold on promotion is incremental to the category."

The FDOC Economic and Market Research Department will release its annual comprehensive Florida Citrus Outlook for 2009-2010 on Oct. 21.

"We look forward to a productive 2009-2010 citrus season," Keck concluded. "Recent independent research demonstrated that the FDOC's fully integrated marketing programs generated a $5 return for every grower dollar invested during the 52 week period ending March 2009. FDOC will continue to grow the market for the Florida citrus industry to help ensure its sustainability and important contributions to Florida's agriculture and economy."

The USDA 2009 Florida crop estimate is available at http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/cpfp.htm

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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