For Fla. citrus crop, it's been a tough year

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Associated Press

Posted on March 2, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 3 at 3:01 AM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — It's been a difficult year for Florida's citrus crop, with a warm, dry winter; citrus greening; and a heavy crop load.

Lots of fruit dropped from the trees this year, which means a chunk of the state's crop is unsellable.

The total impact of citrus in Florida's economy is about $9 billion a year, and bumpy years like this one can set farmers on edge.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting declines for this year's crop. At the beginning of the season, officials predicted a total citrus yield of 154 million boxes of fruit, but that forecast was downgraded in February to 141 million boxes.

Most of Florida's biggest crop, Valencia oranges, is used for juice. Because of a surplus last year, consumers shouldn't see a price increase.

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