Product Bulletin - Grapefruit Florida November 22, 2015

History & Geography

Florida has a long history in citrus production and one which has dramatically changed over the years. GRAPEFRUIT ARRIVED AROUND 1806 courtesy of the French Count, Odet Philippe, who planted the first grove of grapefruit near Tampa, Florida, in 1823.

If you didn’t know the basic history then here it is:

  • 1520

    First Orange Tree

    Spanish explorers planted the first orange tree around St Augustine

  • 1806

    Grapefruit arrives in Florida

    Grapefruit arrived courtesy of French Count, Odet Philippe

  • 1823

    First Grapefruit Planted

    First grapefruit grove is planted near Tampa

  • 1865

    Citrus tops 1 million boxes

    Soon after the end of the Civil War commercial production of citrus topped 1 million boxes

  • 1893

    Citrus tops 5 million boxes

    A growth in demand was met with supplies reaching 5 million boxes

  • 1915

    Citrus tops 10 million boxes

    Despite a set-back during the Great Freeze citrus production in the state reaches 10 million boxes

  • 1950

    Citrus tops 100 million boxes

    Total picking reached 100 million boxes of citrus

  • 1971

    Citrus tops 200 million boxes

    Total picking reached 200 million boxes of citrus


1963 Unloading at Minute Maid Facility in Apopka

Since the 1960s Florida citrus has entered into another stage of development, marked by a reduction in acreage and production. The decline of citrus in Florida stems from increased commercial and residential land development in the Sunshine State. As Florida’s population increased steadily following World War Two, the amount of land dedicated to citrus cultivation rapidly decreased. For example, Orange County, Florida, home of Disneyland and Orlando, produced 95% less citrus in 1990 than in 1970. The panoramic views of citrus groves below now exist only in memory for many Floridians.

Today the CITRUS INDUSTRY IS WORTH $9 BILLION in economic activity for Florida.

There are 8,000 CITRUS GROWERS cultivating almost 550,000 acres of land and nearly 76,000 other people also work in the citrus industry or in related businesses.

Over recent years the market has also been suffering as a result of HLB (CITRUS GREENING).

Huanglongbing (HLB; citrus greening) is thought to be caused by the bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. HLB has seriously affected citrus production in a number of countries in Asia, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Peninsula, and was discovered in Florida in August 2005.

1953 Unloading of fruits

Like anywhere WEATHER CONDITIONS can also an important role. Florida has a humid sub-tropical climate with a rainy season from May-October and during late summer/ early fall, tropical lows can bring damaging cyclones and hurricanes.

Interestingly Florida has more thunderstorms than any other US State and also more tornadoes per square mile, albeit weaker than in other Midwest States.

In this EL NIÑO YEAR we can expect above average rainfall in Spring and more low pressures in the Gulf of Mexico which generally brings less storms and hurricanes during the winter.

Occasionally the state can be hit by a strong winter freeze, anytime between mid-December and early March. The freeze 1985 and 1989 caused 90% damage to both young and mature citrus trees and more recently in 2010 where the freeze caused 30% less fruits to develop.

Grapefruit Oil

Grapefruit Oil USA Citrus paradisi Harvest: December - April

You can see from the chart that recent year’s production has fallen and this year’s forecast is set to be no different.

Graefruit_HistoryRecently the USDA revised their output figures once again to 12.2 million boxes, a further reduction of 100,000 since August. White grapefruit is forecasted at 2.7 million boxes while red (or pink) is unchanged at 9.5 million boxes.

The current fruit size of white grapefruit is below the minimum while current droppage is above the maximum.

The current fruit size of red grapefruit is below average, while current droppage is above the maximum.

These reduced volumes continue to put pressure onto today’s oil markets with prices increasing as a result. As we look ahead it is hard to envisage a situation where this improves quickly.

Orange Oil

Orange Oil USA Citrus sinensis Harvest: February - May

We’ve been reporting for months of the prospects of a poor season in Florida and those pessimistic, but factual views have just been compounded with the latest set of results from the region.

We did report that the crop is set to be the lowest in almost 50 years with an 8% reduction from last year and that this year’s crop is expected to total 96.4 million boxes down from 104.7 million last year and 133.6 million boxes in 2012/13.

However today (press release from 10th November) by the USDA paints an even worse than expected picture with the 2015-2016 FLORIDA ORANGE FORECAST AT 74.0 MILLION BOXES, DOWN 6.0 MILLION BOXES FROM THE INITIAL OCTOBER FORECAST. If true, this forecast will represent 24 PERCENT LESS THAN LAST SEASON’S PRODUCTION AND THE LEAST SINCE THE 1963-64 season of 58.3 million boxes (including Temples). The forecast consists of 37.0 million boxes of the non-Valencia oranges (early, midseason, Navel, and Temple varieties) and 37.0 million boxes of the Valencia oranges.

The forecast of non-Valencia production is lowered to 37.0 million boxes. Current size is below the average and projected to be near the minimum at harvest. Current droppage is above the maximum and is projected to continue above the maximum until harvest. The Navel forecast, included in the non-Valencia forecast, is unchanged at 1.1 million boxes. If realised, this will be the LOWEST FIGURES DATING BACK TO 1979-1980 when separate Navel forecasts began. Current Navel size is about average and droppage is above the maximum.