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Citrus by the Numbers

For the 2017-18 season, production from the nation’s top citrus producers collectively supplied 6.1 million tons of citrus, made up of 3.3 million tons for fresh consumption and 2.8 million tons processed into juice and other products.

Production was down across the board for orange and grapefruit varieties in the nation’s top three growing regions: California, Florida, and Texas.

The direct value of annual production, as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), totaled nearly $3.3 billion, though the actual total economic impact within each of the producing states was several times greater.

In California alone, this number reached as high as $7.1 billion, according to a University of California study.

In its 2018 Citrus Fruits summary, the USDA listed California as first in overall citrus production, at 59 percent, followed by Florida at 36 percent, and Texas and Arizona together totaling 5 percent.

The numbers for California and Florida indicated a reversal from just three years earlier and can be attributed to the ravaging effects of Hurricane Irma then Michael, the ongoing battle against citrus greening disease, the emergence of citrus canker, as well as decreasing consumer demand for orange juice (historically, some 90 percent of citrus harvested in Florida gets processed into juice).

In Texas, production has fallen for the last several season, with grapefruit, in utilized boxes, falling from 6.1 million boxes in the 2012-13 season to 4.8 million in 2016-17.

The 2017-18 season was even lower at 4.1 million boxes according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Florida saw a similar grapefruit production falloff, from nearly 7.8 million in 2016-17 to just under 4.6 million in 2017-18. California, on the other hand, enjoyed a mini surge climbing from 4.0 million boxes to 4.2 million from the 2016-17 to 2017-18 seasons.

For the 2017-18 season in Valencia oranges (which are especially well suited for juicing), Florida led the nation in production, with over double California’s output. For grapefruit production, all three producers—Florida, Texas, and California—were close in output with the season down several thousand boxes from the previous year.

When it comes to navel orange varieties, California significantly outpaced Florida and Texas for the 2017-18 season. It also remained king of domestic lemon production (at 95 percent) as well as the largest marketer (at 87 percent) of all fresh citrus sold in the United States.

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.