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Projections show increased crops and lower prices this year for citrus

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New citrus production projections released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday are predicting price decreases this growing season.

The department’s projections estimate that Florida citrus growers will produce 154 million boxes of oranges, 20.3 million boxes of grapefruit, 4.4 million boxes of tangerines, and 1.2 million boxes of tangelos. Last year, the state produced 146.4 million boxes of oranges, according to a Bloomberg report.

Thomas Spreen, a professor emeritus at the University of Florida’s Food and Resource Economics department, said the projected increases will lead to a decline in price for growers and consumers.

Although growers will have a less lucrative season, Spreen said, they will not look to cut corners.

“You always harvest the fruit that’s out there,” he said.

Spreen said a bigger concern is citrus greening, a deadly bacterial disease that destroys crops, which can cost growers money.

“The concern is that with this green disease that the growers are dealing with right now, they haven’t spend a lot of money to maintain their growths,” he said.

The department’s projections kicked off the citrus growing season, which is expected to run through June.

Spreen said he believed keeping the citrus intact for the long term is more important than trying to make a quick dollar in a bad season.

“When you try to save money by reducing inputs, it then potentially has negative consequences for the following years,” he said.

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