(Oct. 10, 3:37 p.m.) Declines in Florida and California oranges and grapefruit production but more boxes of lemons and similar tangerine packouts should mark the upcoming 2008-09 citrus season.

In the season’s first official citrus forecast, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Oct. 10 forecast across-the-board production drops in most varieties of Florida, California and Texas oranges, tangerines and grapefruit.

Only Florida navels, California and Arizona lemons, California tangerines and Arizona grapefruit are expected to see production increases.

Florida, the leading citrus-producing state, is forecast to produce 166 million equivalent cartons of oranges — down 2.5% from last season’s 170.2 million boxes.

On grapefruit, Florida is expected to produce 23 million boxes — 13.5% down from last season’s 26.6 million boxes.

For tangerines, despite a small increase in its early fallglo tangerines, Florida is forecast to pack 4.9 million boxes, an 11% decline from last season’s 5.5 million boxes.

California and Arizona are expected to produce 14% more cartons of lemons, boosting production to 21.5 million packages compared to last season’s 18.5 million.

On all citrus, Florida is expected to pack 195.4 million boxes, down from last season’s 203.8 million boxes. That’s considerably lower than the 281.1-million-box 2000-04 average but closer to the 201-million-box 2004-08 average.

The 280.2 million boxes of citrus U.S. producing regions are expected to pack for the upcoming season is lower than last year’s 307 million boxes and lower than the 297.7-million-box past five-year average.