TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the initial citrus crop forecast for the 2020-21 season. Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried offered the following statement:
“When Americans think of wellness and health, their thoughts turn to Florida orange juice and fresh citrus, especially during these unprecedented times. Despite the challenges that Florida’s citrus growers have faced as a result of citrus greening (Huanglongbing disease), I continue to be encouraged by the resiliency of this industry, its producers, and their commitment to new plantings, research, and innovation,” stated Commissioner Fried. “Since late spring, the Florida citrus industry has anticipated the 2020-21 citrus crop to be smaller than the prior season and today confirms that assumption. However, Florida Citrus production is a marathon, not a sprint, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stands committed to help strengthen and promote Florida-grown citrus.”
The USDA forecast of 57 million boxes of oranges for the 2020-21 season is down 16 percent from the 67.6 million boxes harvested last season. The USDA also forecast 4.5 million boxes of grapefruit and 1.1 million boxes of tangerines in 2020-21. The peak of citrus production was 244 million boxes during the 1997-98 season.
Commissioner Fried has been a strong advocate for Florida citrus and has continued to demonstrate support for the industry by helping secure vital funding in the FY 2020-21 budget, including $8 million for citrus research projects, $7.4 million for citrus health and fighting pests and diseases, and $19.2 million to pay outstanding Citrus Canker claims to Lee County. Fried also helped establish a state direct-support organization to manage the new Citrus Research and Field Trials (CRAFT) program, which will plant 5,000 new acres of citrus groves using experimental techniques.