Tuesday, May 22, 2018
News Roundup

USDA estimates Florida's citrus yield at 54 million boxes

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a rosy prediction for Florida's orange crop yield — but Florida stakeholders don't believe it. At 54 million boxes, Thursday's federal estimate is nearly double the figure that citrus trade organization Florida Citrus Mutual projected previously.

The federal figures, which were announced on a noon conference call, are one of the first official indicators of the scope of damage that Hurricane Irma inflicted on the state's citrus industry.

They are also significantly sunnier than industry groups say they should be. In a survey of Florida growers conducted after Hurricane Irma, Florida Citrus Mutual estimated that Florida's orange yield would be 31 million boxes, the lowest count since 1942.

Florida orange crop expected to be lowest in 75 years

"I'm disappointed the USDA did not delay the traditional October crop estimate until more data could be collected to fully assess the damage wrought by Irma," said Michael Sparks, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, in a statement. "Irma hit us just a month ago and although we respect the skill and professionalism of the USDA, there is no way they can put out a reliable number in that short time period."

Ahead of the release, Adam Putnam, commissioner for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said Wednesday in Washington, D.C., that he puts "zero stock" in the federal figures. He reiterated that sentiment in a softer-toned Thursday release.

"I am concerned that today's forecast does not accurately estimate the damages to our industry, given that groves are still under water and fruit is still dropping from trees," he said. "It's important to recognize that the damage to Florida citrus is still unfolding, and will continue to for some time."

Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo on Twitter.

Comments
Did ex-girlfriend’s Facebook post leak suspension of FSU starter Josh Ball?

Did ex-girlfriend’s Facebook post leak suspension of FSU starter Josh Ball?

A Florida State student from Lithia wrote a Facebook post Monday afternoon alleging the suspension of Seminoles starting offensive tackle Josh Ball.Little else was known a day later, but the details in the since-deleted post are consistent ...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Tampa police officers to wear pins noting military service

Tampa police officers to wear pins noting military service

TAMPA — When Tampa police Capt. Calvin Johnson responds to calls, his time in the Army rarely comes up. When it does, people ask him what war he was in, his length of service and where he was stationed.The conversation, Johnson said, changes how peop...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Here’s why there are so many coyotes and why they are spreading so fast

Here’s why there are so many coyotes and why they are spreading so fast

For eons, coyotes roamed what is now the western United States, with its wide-open plains. Then came European settlers, who cut down forests for farms and ranches in a steady east-west march. Along the way, they killed large predators such as pumas a...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
Florida’s python hunt bags 1,000th snake

Florida’s python hunt bags 1,000th snake

HOMESTEAD — Florida is marking a milestone in its attempt to control an infestation of Burmese pythons in the Everglades. The state has been paying a select group of 25 hunters to catch and kill the invasive snakes on state lands in South Florida si...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco delays take-back of SunWest Park

Pasco delays take-back of SunWest Park

NEW PORT RICHEY – The publicly owned SunWest Park is still in private hands.At least for now.On Tuesday, Pasco County commissioners delayed voting on a plan to take over operations of the publicly owned lakefront park near Aripeka that would have all...
Updated: 1 hour ago
A fake ‘Zombie Outbreak’ alert alarms Lake Worth residents

A fake ‘Zombie Outbreak’ alert alarms Lake Worth residents

Folks around the Lake Worth area were warned of a zombie outbreak early Sunday morning.The alert, issued at 1:41 a.m., was meant to inform residents about a power outage but had been changed to reference the popular AMC television series The Walking ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
FedEx driver, 22, dies in crash on Interstate 4

FedEx driver, 22, dies in crash on Interstate 4

TAMPA — A 22-year-old FedEx driver died Tuesday after a tire blew out on his freight truck on Interstate 4 east of Tampa, sending it into a collision path with a Chevrolet Volt, state troopers said. Two teen girls in the Volt survived the 10:21 a.m. ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

The Bucs started another chapter of their offseason Tuesday with the first OTA (organized team activity) practice at One Buc Place, with veterans Jason Pierre-Paul and Brent Grimes as the only healthy players absent from what is officially a voluntar...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Game 7 odds and ends as you wait for Lightning-Capitals on Wednesday

Game 7 odds and ends as you wait for Lightning-Capitals on Wednesday

For the 33rd time in NHL history, a Stanley Cup semifinal series is headed to a Game 7, where the home teams are 21-11.The Lightning and Capitals meet Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in a win-or-go home game to decide who plays Vegas in the Stanley C...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Intensity, preparation key to Calvary Christian LHP Nolan Hudi’s success

Intensity, preparation key to Calvary Christian LHP Nolan Hudi’s success

Nolan Hudi has made 26 starts for Calvary Christian and he has won 22 of them. His other four starts were no decisions.The Warriors have won 59 straight games entering Wednesday's Class 4A state semifinal against Jacksonville Trinity Christian. No ga...
Updated: 1 hour ago