Citrus Harvest in Mediterranean Forecast to Be Little Changed

The citrus crop in the Mediterranean basin is forecast to be little changed in the 2011-12 season as bigger harvests in Italy and Turkey make up for fewer oranges in Spain, the European Fresh Produce Organization said.

Citrus production in the region may slip to 18.48 million metric tons from 18.54 million tons in 2010-11, the Brussels-based industry lobby, known as Freshfel, said in a report on its website dated yesterday.

The Mediterranean Sea countries grow about 14 percent of the world’s oranges, based on data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. The region’s combined output exceeds that of the U.S., the world’s second-biggest grower after Brazil, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

“Spain as a leading producing country will experience a production decrease by 11 percent after the peak level reached last year,” Freshfel said. “Southern Mediterranean countries are heading for a production increase.”

The region’s orange production is forecast to climb 1.8 percent to 9.74 million tons from 9.56 million tons, the group said. That compares with U.S. production of 7.96 million tons in 2010-11, based on September estimates by the USDA.

Spain’s orange crop, the biggest in the Mediterranean, is forecast to fall 10 percent to 2.69 million tons, according to Freshfel. Italy’s 2011-12 orange harvest will rise 18 percent to 2.3 million tons, the report showed.

Turkey will lift orange production by 10 percent to 1.39 million tons and Egypt’s orange crop is forecast to be little changed at 1.7 million tons, Freshfel said. Greek orange output will slide 23 percent to 525,000 tons, it said.

The region’s production of “easy peelers,” which includes clementines, mandarins and tangelos, will slump 8.4 percent to 4.97 million tons, Freshfel forecast. The lemon harvest in the Mediterranean basin will increase 5.9 percent to 3.1 million tons and grapefruit production will rise 24 percent to 665,200 tons, according to the outlook.

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