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Orange Juice Climbs on Florida Crop Concern; Cocoa, Sugar Gain

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March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Orange juice rose to an 11-week high on mounting concern that dry weather will curb output in Florida, the world’s second-biggest citrus grower. Cocoa and sugar also gained, while coffee and cotton declined.

Florida’s citrus belt will get drier-than-normal weather during the next two weeks, with the best chance for light rain expected tomorrow, Bethesda, Maryland-based Commodity Weather Group LLC said in a report today. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cut its estimate of orange production in Florida by 1.8 percent because of dry conditions and citrus greening, a crop disease.

“It is all about how much damage the dry weather will cause before the rainy season starts in June,” Fain Shaffer, the president of Infinity Trading Crop in Medford, Oregon, said in an e-mail.

Orange juice for delivery in May rallied 2.3 percent to settle at $1.3625 a pound at 2 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, after touching $1.375, the highest for a most-active contract since Dec. 21. Prices are up 11 percent in three sessions and 16 percent this year.

“Dryness is a factor this winter,” Jerry Neff, a branch manager at Allendale Inc. in Bradenton, Florida, said in an e-mail. “Even though we irrigate a lot of groves, this still seems to be a real concern for Florida citrus growers.”

Also in New York, cocoa futures for May delivery rose 0.5 percent to $2,130 a metric ton, while raw-sugar futures for May delivery advanced 0.4 percent to 18.82 cents a pound, the fifth gain in six sessions.

Arabica-coffee futures for delivery in May slipped 0.2 percent to $1.4375 a pound on ICE, while cotton futures dropped 0.2 percent to 86.72 cents a pound.

To contact the reporters on this story: Marvin G. Perez in New York at mperez71@bloomberg.net; Oliver Renick in Chicago at orenick1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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