Big increase in Florida citrus volume
Florida’s orange volume should be about 77 million 90-pound box equivalents, most of which will go to processing, said Andrew Meadows, director of communications for Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Mutual.
Last year’s total was about 45 million boxes.
“That’s clearly up significantly,” he said. “(Hurricane) Irma really hit us hard (in 2017).”
The state’s growers are expected to ship 6.4 million boxes of grapefruit and 1.2 million boxes of tangerines this season.
“It’s a good-size crop for the hole that we were in,” Meadows said.
Oviedo, Fla.-based Duda Farm Fresh Foods is shipping juice oranges, navel oranges, tangerines and white and red grapefruit this winter, said account manager John Holford.
“All oranges volume should be up 30% to 40% from last year’s crop, mostly due to the Hurricane Irma devastation we encountered,” he said.
“Quality is better now that we have had some cooler weather,” he said.
Getting the fruit to color up during the warm fall was a challenge.
The company had just finished its navel crop, Holford said in early January, and expected to start picking valencias in February.
Grapefruit volume should be up more than 60% for the company this year compared to last year, when the firm’s orchards received a direct hit from the hurricane, he said.
He expected a “nice rebound in volume this year.”
Duda Farm Fresh Foods is offering red and white grapefruit, and Holford said he hopes the crop will extend into March.
Florida Classic Gowers Inc., Dundee, Fla., will have an extended season this year for its valencia oranges as a result of an expanded storage program, said president Al Finch.
This year’s program is expected to run through June, a few weeks longer than usual.
The company’s valencia program should start in late January.
“We anticipate having a good crop,” Finch said.
Early indications are that sizing is larger than last season, he said, with more 64- and 80-count fruit.
He said he expected to ship more valencias this year than last year.
Honey tangerines were scheduled to start harvesting the week of Jan. 14 and should be available into April.
“The crop size looks good,” Finch said. “And it’s a clean crop.”
Finch said he expects good quality and increased volume on all the company’s commodities.