Florida Orange-Crop Estimate Cut 0.4% by USDA on Damage

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reduced its estimate for Florida’s orange crop by 0.4 percent because of damage from citrus greening, a bacterial disease.

In the season that started Oct. 1, the state may collect 133.4 million boxes, down from 134 million projected last month, the USDA said today in a report. On average, analysts and traders expected the agency to cut the estimate to 133.83 million, a Bloomberg News survey showed. A year earlier, output was 146.7 million. Florida is the world’s biggest orange grower after Brazil.

“The reduction will be mostly due to the ongoing problems with citrus greening, which continues to hurt the crop,” John Ortelle, a vice president with McKeanny Flavell Co., a broker in Oakland, California, said in a telephone interview before the report.

Through yesterday, orange-juice futures in New York jumped 15 percent this year. The bulk of the Florida orange harvest occurs through July.

Citrus greening starves a tree of nutrients, causing fruit to shrink and drop prematurely. The disease has been found in all of Florida’s 32 counties that produce the fruit commercially. Before today, the agency had trimmed the estimate six times since the start of the current season in October.

Yields will average 1.59 gallons per box, down from 1.63 gallons a year earlier, the USDA said. A box weighs 90 pounds, or 41 kilograms.

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