The 2015-16 citrus season had some definite silver linings that Florida’s citrus growers could hang their hats on. Highlights include one USDA citrus forecast after another for four months straight that projected small increases in the year’s citrus harvests, and ending with an increase over the season’s first citrus forecast, however slight an increase, at 81.5 million boxes. So far, the 2016-17 season is definitely not starting on a similar high note.

The Latest Citrus Forecast

August 10th saw the release of the 2016-17 season’s first citrus forecast, this one from Kissimmee-based citrus consultant, Elizabeth Steger. It forecast 60.5 million boxes of citrus, down a whopping 26 percent from 2015-16’s totals. A Lakeland Ledger article maintained that Steger’s estimates are “widely watched” and are “generally considered the first statistically reliable indicator of the upcoming season’s orange crop.”

Citrus Forecast and Harvest History

If Steger’s predictions come to pass, the upcoming citrus season will be the lowest orange crop since the 1963-64 season, which produced just 54.9 million boxes of oranges. The 2015-16 season’s harvest was down 66 percent over 1997-98 harvest year’s 244 million boxes, the highest ever, and the 2003-04 harvest year’s 242 million boxes, the last non-hurricane year prior to the discover of citrus greening in 2005.

The main culprit for the downturn in the citrus industry is citrus greening spread by the Asian citrus psyllid; the disease causes citrus trees to lose fruit early and to produce stunted fruit in declining amounts until the tree ultimately dies. The fungal disease known as “postbloom fruit drop” is also causing a problem with production numbers. If the prediction is accurate, the citrus industry and the world will face higher prices, citrus shortages and falling consumption due to high prices. The new citrus season starts in October, and you can expect the first USDA forecast shortly thereafter.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.