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Florida orange crop estimate holds at 168 million boxes

Despite the recent nights where temperatures dipped below freezing, Florida`s 2007-08 orange crop estimate remained unchanged at 168 million boxes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture which released a revised citrus forecast Friday.

`After the recent cold snap that came across our growing region, we are pleased to see the continued forecast for a healthy 168 million box crop,` said Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual. `This continues to be good news for growers.`

The 168 million boxes are made up of 77.9 million boxes of Early-Mids, 3.1 million boxes of Navels and 87 million boxes of Valencias. The Florida citrus industry saw a decline in orange production from 230 million boxes to 129 million boxes during the five-year period between 2001-02 season and the 2006-07 season.

This reduction was due in large part to the effects of hurricanes and pests and diseases such as citrus canker and greening. A 168 million box orange crop would represent a 30 percent increase from the 2006-07 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 Friday`s revised estimate, Florida grapefruit, tangelo and tangerine all remained unchanged as well at 25 million, 1.3 million and 4.8 million respectively.

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