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Grapefruit a bright spot in citrus forecast

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Grapefruit continues to outperform its early-season forecast, while the outlook for Florida’s orange crop dropped, according to an update on the 2019-2020 growing season released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Entering the Valencia harvest period with relatively stable numbers remains a positive sign for Florida’s iconic citrus industry,” Florida Department of Citrus Executive Director Shannon Shepp said in a prepared statement, adding that the grapefruit “production rebound is significant and presents an optimistic vision for Florida grapefruit in the near future.”

The February forecast reduced the projected orange production by nearly 3 percent, from 74 million 90-pound boxes to 72 million boxes. The industry uses 90-pound boxes as a standard measurement. The change keeps the orange crop slightly ahead of last season’s output of 71.6 million boxes.

Florida remains the top grower of oranges in the nation, trailed by California, which is projected to fill 49 million boxes this season.

Meanwhile, projected grapefruit production is up to 5.9 million boxes, nearly a 10 percent increase from January. The forecast for grapefruit had grown 10 percent from December to January and 6.5 percent from October to December.

The new forecast kept the state’s citrus specialty crops, primarily tangerines and tangelos, at 1.05 million boxes.