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Florida Orange Crop to Jump as Groves Rebound, Transworld Says

The orange crop in Florida, the world’s second-largest producer, may increase 22 percent over the next year as groves recover from a freeze in January, said Jimmy Tintle, an analyst at Transworld Futures.

Output may jump to 163 million boxes in the harvest that begins in October, compared with a three-year low of 133.6 million in 2009-2010, said Tintle, who accurately predicted the crop decline in January. The new forecast is based on visits to citrus groves and interviews with growers, he said.

“We had plenty of moisture, and the frost in January didn’t affect the new crop as much as people had expected,” Tintle said by telephone today from Tampa, Florida. “Trees are loaded with fruit, and the fruit size is good. That’s going to increase box count.”

Orange-juice futures have surged 27 percent in the past year, touching a two-year high of $1.53 a pound on March 8, after the worst cold snap in more than 20 years damaged about 5 percent of crop in Florida’s citrus belt in January.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture cut its forecast of the 2009-2010 crop to 129 million boxes in February. Since then, the department raised its estimate three times, citing a favorable mix of rain and sunshine. The harvest runs from October into July. A box of oranges weighs 90 pounds (41 kilograms).

Growers picked 162.5 million boxes in the 2008-2009 season and 170.2 million a year earlier, according to the USDA.

Orange-juice futures for September delivery fell 5.3 cents, or 3.7 percent, to close at $1.3895 as of 2 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. Brazil is the biggest producer.

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