Florida’s Bummer Crop

Jan 19, 2021

Last week, the USDA peeled back its report on the latest forecast for the 2020-2021 Florida citrus crop. And well…it’s worse than they thought.

The January outlook dropped by 2 million boxes from last month’s forecast, resulting in a projected 20% decrease from the 2019-2020 growing season.

By the numbers:

  • 90 pounds, the industry standard for a “box” of oranges
  • 67.3 million boxes, the final yield from the ‘19-’20 season
  • 54 million boxes, the projected crop for this growing season

How we got here: Since it was first detected in 2005, citrus greening disease has caused a +75% decline in Florida’s production of oranges. The disease results in bitter fruit, and eventually…a dead tree. Plant breeders are working around the world and around the clock to develop resistant varieties of orange trees.

Citrus processors are also feeling the squeeze. Most of the Florida orange crop goes to filling your orange juice jugs. And although the pandemic has resulted in a slight uptick in OJ consumption, a long term downtrend paired with greening disease uncertainty has stressed the capital-intensive industry.

Glass half full: Even with the projected yield decline, the Florida Department of Citrus is staying positive: “Grapefruit production is up, growers continue to make great strides against citrus greening, and consumers are more focused on health and wellness than ever before.”