ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida's hurricane-damaged orange and grapefruit crop will be even smaller than originally estimated, officials said Friday, raising the prospect of higher prices for orange juice (search) at supermarkets and an even greater scarcity of grapefruit juice (search).
The decreases were the result of further fruit dropping from trees in the months since three of Florida's four hurricanes blew through citrus-rich areas of the state.
Florida's orange crop forecast was reduced by 8 million boxes to 168 million 90-pound boxes by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (search). If the forecast holds through the end of the season, the 2004-2005 crop will be the smallest in 13 years and a nearly a third less than last season's 242 million boxes.
Florida's grapefruit crop forecast was reduced by 2 million boxes to 13 million 85-pound boxes, the smallest size since the 1935-1936 season. The crop will be more than two-thirds smaller than last year's crop of 40.8 million boxes.