Florida’s 2007-2008 orange crop estimate remains the same at 168.5 million boxes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s revised citrus forecast.

“This remains a good sized crop for the Florida citrus industry,” says Mike Sparks, executive vice president/chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual, Lakeland, in a news release. “Prices to growers are a bit lower than we expected and that has us concerned. We need higher prices to offset the increased production costs associated with pest and disease management and energy prices.”

The 168.5 million boxes break down into 80.5 million boxes of early-mids, three million boxes of navels and 85 million boxes of valencias, according to the mutual news release.

Florida orange production declined from 230 million boxes to 129 million boxes between the 2001-2002 season and the 2006-2007 season. This was strongly affected by hurricanes, development, and pests and diseases such as citrus canker and greening.

A 168.5 million box orange crop would represent about a 31 percent increase from the 2006-2007 season. The USDA issues its initial estimate in October and then revises it each month through the end of the citrus season in July.

In this revised estimate, Florida grapefruit increased from 24.5 million boxes to 26.3 million boxes. Tangelos remained unchanged at 1.5 million boxes and tangerines increased from 4.8 million boxes to 5.3 million boxes.

The complete USDA crop forecast is available from the Florida Agriculture Statistics Service online at http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/cpfp.htm.