2011-12 FL Citrus Season Was Third-Most Profitable In History

10/8/2012

Pierre DuCharme | The Ledger        The recently completed 2011-12 Florida citrus season may not turn out to be the most profitable in Florida's history, but even a bronze gets you on the medal stand.

        The value of last season's citrus crop reached $1.35 billion, down 1 percent from a revised 2010-11 crop value of $1.37 billion and shy of the previous record of $1.5 billion in the 2006-07 season, according to the preliminary 2011-12 season summary released Thursday by the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

        "To be in there in the top five is still an accomplishment given all the factors, such as disease, pests and weather, the growers had to deal with," said Matt Salois, director of economic and market research at the Bartow-based Florida Department of Citrus. "This is still a testament to the industry."

        The economic performance appears even more impressive given that commercial citrus acreage and tree numbers once again hit their lowest totals since 1966, when the USDA began its citrus census.

        The 2011-12 crop may still move up the ladder because a full accounting has yet to come, said Bob Behr, an economist and chief operating officer at Florida's Natural Growers, the Lake Wales juice processor.

        That's because the currently reported value reflects only base contract prices growers received for their 2011-12 fruit, Behr said. Actual prices, particularly for late-season oranges, rose dramatically during the season and will not show up in the USDA figure until next year.

        "From a cash value perspective, this was a good year for Florida growers," Behr said.

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