MGN Online

Published: Dec 11, 2013 5:16 AM EST

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) - As many Florida citrus growers have feared, the smallest orange crop in 24 years will get smaller as pre-harvest fruit drop continues to plague groves.
The Lakeland Ledger reports ( that the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday shaved four million orange boxes - or three percent - off the projected 2013-14 orange harvest.
This was the first monthly update since its initial Nov. 8 forecast. The new estimate is 121 million boxes.
The report cites historically low fruit size and record high pre-harvest drop - both of which attributed to the millions of trees infected by the deadly citrus greening bacterial disease - as the reasons for the reduction.
The new estimate is still above the previous low orange crop of 110.2 million boxes harvested in the 1989-90 season.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)