An economist’s recent 10-year production forecast for Florida citrus predicts the next decade could be a trying one for growers, with disease, development and hurricanes named as top threats to production levels. Mark Brown delivered his forecast to the Florida Citrus Commission on Dec. 20.

But Brown, an economist for the Florida Department of Citrus in Gainesville, also pointed out some bright spots in the outlook. Production declines could increase farm prices, he said, which could bolster future production by encouraging growers to replant lost trees. “We are somewhat optimistic on the persistence of the industry,” he said.

Brown predicted orange production may range between 180 million and 190 million boxes in upcoming years before dropping to between 150 million and 170 million boxes in the 2016-17 season.  He also estimates grapefruit production at between 20 million and 22 million boxes before declining to between 14 million and 16 million boxes in the same period, according to The Ledger newspaper in Lakeland.

Production of specialty citrus is expected to decline from an initial 7 million boxes to 5 million boxes by 2016-17.

Brown cautioned that production losses could be much higher depending on the effects of disease, development and hurricanes in coming years.