Published: Dec 10, 2010 8:39 PM EST
Updated: Dec 10, 2010 5:39 PM EST

LAKELAND, Fla. - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released  its December citrus forecast Friday, estimating Florida will produce 143 million boxes of oranges in 2010-2011, down 3 million boxes from the initial October estimate.

The cold temperatures earlier this week, which didn’t cause any material damage to the crop, had nothing to do with the decrease.

“This decrease isn’t unexpected as we’ve been hearing reports of smaller fruit over the past couple of weeks,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “It looks like the crop isn’t going to be as big as initially thought.”

Visit www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/cpfp.htm for the complete USDA estimate. The USDA makes its initial forecast in October and then revises it monthly until the end of the season in July.

The USDA predicts Florida will harvest 19.6 million boxes of grapefruit in ’10-‘11, down slightly from the initial 20 million boxes estimate. 

The forecast for early and midseason varieties in Florida was reduced 1 million boxes to 68 million boxes, and Valencias are were reduced 2 million to 75 million boxes.  For Florida specialty fruit, the USDA predicts 1.1 million boxes of tangelos and 4.4 million boxes of tangerines.  The yield for from concentrate orange juice (FCOJ) is expected to be 1.61 gallons per 90-pound box.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $9 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 76,000 people, and covering more than 569,000 acres. Founded in 1948 and currently representing nearly 8,000 grower members, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com.