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USDA's Florida orange forecast continues to drop

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's monthly forecast of the 2013-14 Florida orange crop decreased to 110 million boxes, a drop from the previous projection of 114 million. The drop can be attributed to a reduction in Valencias — from 61 million boxes to 57 million.

"We continue to feel the effects of HLB, or citrus greening disease, in groves across Florida," Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual, said in a press release. "The silver lining is that the tight supply will put upward pressure on grower returns; however, that is not sustainable in the long term. That's why finding a solution to this destructive disease in the laboratory is so important."

During the 2012-13 season, Florida produced 133.6 million boxes of oranges. For the complete USDA estimate, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/cpfp.htm.

Early-mid orange varieties remained at 53 million boxes. The USDA's estimate of the 2013-14 Florida grapefruit crop remained at 16 million boxes. Specialty fruit is now at 3.83 million boxes, down 320,000.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $9 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 76,000 people, and covering about 525,000 acres.

Founded in 1948, Florida Citrus Mutual is one of the state's larger citrus grower organizations. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com.