USDA projects 5 percent increase for 2012-13 Florida orange crop

LAKELAND — Citrus harvesting began earlier this month and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that Florida's orange crop will increase by 5 percent from last year.

The Ledger of Lakeland reports the USDA forecast projected Florida growers will produce 154 million boxes of oranges. It estimated the state's grapefruit crop at 20.3 million boxes, up 8 percent; tangerines at 4.4 million boxes, up 3 percent; and tangelos at 1.2 million boxes, a 4 percent increase.

Citrus harvesting should run into June.

The USDA says Polk County leads the state's citrus-producing counties with 82,572 grove acres and 9.9 million trees in 2012. It historically leads in citrus production, as it did in the 2011-12 season.

It ranked No. 1 in orange, tangerine and tangelo production and third in grapefruit.

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