By Frank Giles
The final U.S. citrus forecast of the 2021–22 season, released July 12, bumped up the estimate a bit from June forecast. Florida’s all-orange forecast rose 1%, to 40.95 million boxes, due to a slight increase in non-Valencia orange production and a 1% increase in expected Valencia orange production.
However, the crop was the smallest since the 1942-43 season. It also marked a 22.7% drop from the 2020-21 season. The final numbers reflect the continuing decline of trees due to HLB. It also reflects a winter freeze that hit groves in January.
Jim Snively, vice president of grove operations for Southern Gardens Citrus, says it was another tough season.
“Our production was slightly better than last season,” he says. “We produced more boxes, but our pounds solids were worse than last year. Overall, it was not a good season for us.”
Snively adds that more attention needs to be paid to quality and falling pounds solids. Fruit retention also needs to remain a priority.
“Hopefully, applying plant growth regulators (PGRs) will hold the fruit on the trees for next season’s harvest,” Snively says. “And quality must improve.”
Research has indicated that applications of PGRs like gibberellic acid can improve fruit retention.
There are hopes that new plantings since Hurricane Irma will have a positive influence on production. Matt Joyner, executive vice president and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, says about 68,000 acres of citrus have been planted since 2017. That could translate to 8 to 13 million boxes of new production in the future.
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