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State expects bumper crops of citrus, lower consumer prices

Florida's orange and grapefruit groves this season are expected to yield their third-largest crops in the state's history, according to government statistics released Thursday.

Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida, and last week's damaging tornadoes in west-central Florida skirted the state's orange and grapefruit groves, said state Department of Citrus executive director Dan Gunter.

The orange crop is expected to reach 186-million boxes, up 33 percent from last season's harvest. The grapefruit crop is expected to be 54-million boxes, up 27 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture citrus forecast.

Production of specialty varieties _ tangerines, temple oranges and tangelos _ is expected to reach 8.6-million boxes, a 15 percent increase from last year, according to the government estimates.

"The larger crops will definitely be good news for consumers," Gunter said. "Big crops historically translate into more favorable consumer prices."

Based on the USDA forecast, Florida orange juice production is expected to total 1.06-billion gallons for the 1992-93 season, up 30.4 percent from last season.

Florida citrus growers have 92-million trees and account for three-fourths of the nation's annual citrus crop and more than 94 percent of its orange juice supply, Gunter said.

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