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Updated: 11/20/2013 08:00:03AM

Orange crop expected to decline

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its initial forecast Nov. 8 pegging the 2013-2014 Florida orange crop at 125 million boxes, down 6 percent from last season.

The USDA estimated at 67 million boxes compared to 66.3 million at the end of last season while the early-mid varieties total is 58 million, down from 67.1 million in 2012-2013.

“The number shows HLB continues to affect our industry and growers are faced once again with a challenging season,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “The good news is at this size there should be upward pressure on prices.”

The USDA usually makes its initial estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly as the crop takes shape until the end of the season in July. However, the federal government shutdown delayed the estimate until Friday. During the 2012-2013 season, Florida produced 133.4 million boxes of oranges.

The estimate of the 2013-2014 Florida grapefruit crop is 17.8 million boxes down from 18.4 million. Specialty fruit checked in at 5.2 million boxes. The yield for from concentrate orange juice (FCOJ) was 1.60 gallons per 90-pound box.

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