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USDA predicts decrease to 2012-13 Florida citrus crop

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said its estimate of the 2012-13 Florida citrus crop has decreased almost 3 percent to 142 million boxes.

The majority of the decrease occurred in Valencias, which declined 3 million boxes to 76 million from the USDA's December estimate. Early-mids decreased 1 million boxes to 66 million boxes.

The USDA makes its first estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly as the crop takes shape until the end of the season in July.

"Several variables such as rainfall, disease pressure, fruit size and significant fruit drop has made it a very tricky year for crop forecasting," Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual, said in a statement. "Fruit drop in early-mids and small sizes in Valencias are most likely the cause of this decrease."

During the 2011-12 season, Florida produced 146.6 million boxes of oranges.

For Florida specialty fruit and grapefruit, all numbers remained the same. The USDA predicts 1.1 million boxes of tangelos and 3.8 million boxes of tangerines.

The USDA said that Florida will harvest 18 million boxes of grapefruit.

The yield for from-concentrate orange juice remained at 1.61 gallons per 90-pound box.