"The agency could not accurately account for the full extent of the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Irma" last month, Florida Citrus Mutual said Thursday in a statement, less than an hour after the USDA released its numbers in Washington.
USDA's initial estimate of the 2017-2018 Florida citrus crop is well above the crop Florida Citrus Mutual predicts based on grower survey it conducted following Irma. Preliminary estimates showed $760.8 million in damage to the citrus industry. "It's important to recognize that the damage to Florida citrus is still unfolding, and will continue to for some time", said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.
Irma ripped through in September, causing an estimated $2.5 billion in damage to the state's agriculture, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said on October 4. "There is no group of people more stubborn or more resilient than Florida's growers, and we will get through this together", said Putnam.
AgNet Media has carried the citrus forecast live from USDA for many years.
Orange growers in Florida, the largest U.S. producer, will harvest 54 million boxes in the 2017-18 marketing year, the least since 1947 - an era when citrus irrigation was rare - the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a report Thursday.
The California forecast is also lower than last year at 35.0 million boxes (1.40 million tons), down 11 percent from last season's final utilization, while the Texas all orange forecast, at 1.65 million boxes (70,000 tons), is up 20 percent from last year. Total specialty comes in at 1 million boxes.