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Citrus report: Oranges, grapefruits unscathed by January freeze

February 13, 1997

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Florida’s citrus industry survived last month’s freeze unscathed, according to statistics released Wednesday.

The forecast for the 1996-1997 orange season in Florida remained unchanged from last month at 220 million boxes. Each box is the equivalent of about 90 pounds.

The forecast predicted 133 million boxes of early, midseason and navel oranges, which are usually harvested by March, a slight increase from last month’s forecast.

It estimated 87 million boxes of Valencia oranges, a slight decrease from last month. Valencia oranges are usually harvested after April.

``The freeze was localized,″ said Paul N. Messenger, a statistician supervisor at the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service. ``Where it hit, it hit hard. But it didn’t hit everywhere.″

The timing of the freeze minimized damage because most early season oranges had already matured, he said. The freeze caused about $300 million damage to other Florida crops.

The Florida grapefruit forecast for the 1996-1997 season also remained unchanged at 59 million boxes. White, seedless grapefruit were estimated to come in at 26.5 million boxes; colored seedless grapefruit at 31.5 million boxes; and grapefruits with seeds at a million boxes.

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