Florida citrus growers are optimistic after the first citrus crop forecast of 2014-2015 was released by the US Department of Agriculture, with groves looking healthier and exterior quality having improved compared to the last couple of seasons.
The forecast includes a projection of 15 million boxes in Florida grapefruit (four million white and 11 million coloured), which, though a slight decline from the previous season, is an indication of grapefruit production stabilisation for the industry.
Growers are continuing to find innovative treatments to battle citrus greening and sustain production numbers, and the improved quality this year is expected to increase the available volume of grapefruit for the fresh market.
“Despite facing enormous challenges, Florida’s citrus industry has remained resilient,” said Doug Ackerman, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC). “The industry will continue to improve and prevail because of the innovation and hard work our growers bring to the groves every single day.”
Furthermore, Florida remains the largest grapefruit production region in the world with just over 18,000 bearing hectares (44,900 acres) of grapefruit trees. It’s estimated that there are 4.6 million bearing grapefruit trees in Florida. Florida’s grapefruit growers and packers are said to be pleased with the quality of the early season crop. The exterior quality is showing marked improvement compared to the last two seasons, and interior taste – for which Florida is famous – is off to ‘a very good start’.
“Despite the slight reduction to the size of the overall grapefruit crop, we expect the improved exterior quality to allow for more Florida grapefruit to be packed and shipped to our key export markets compared to last season,” said Michael Schadler, director of international marketing at the FDOC.
As the season continues, the initial crop forecast will be adjusted to reflect any changes. However, many in the industry are hopeful the numbers will remain strong.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019
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