USDA predicts smaller citrus crop in Florida

11:44 AM, Dec 11, 2013   |    comments
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WINTER HAVEN, Florida (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.

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