NASS forecast the U.S. 2010/11 grapefruit crop at 1.2 million tons, down less than 1 percent from last season but the fourth consecutive season of declining production, and the second lowest level dating back to 1980. If realized, this season’s crop would be the smallest since the 2004/05 when Florida’s hurricane reduced crop drove U.S. grapefruit production to a record low since the 1970’s.

Florida’s crop accounts for 70 percent of total U.S. grapefruit production, with Texas and California producing the remainder. Prior to the hurricanes of 2004/05 and 2005/06, Florida’s production averaged about 80 percent of the U.S. total.

Florida’s grapefruit crop is forecast to reach 850,000 tons, 2 percent lower than last season. Grapefruit acreage in Florida fell by an estimated 7 percent in 2010 to just over 50,000 acres, but a larger average fruit size kept production close to last year’s level. Acreage was down in all production areas, including a 3,000 acre decline in the Indian River, the State’s largest production region.

Shipments began slowly this season, with Florida’s Citrus Administrative Committee (FCAC) reporting about 30-40 percent fewer shipments, season to date (through November 14th), than either of the previous two seasons. Shipments have been down so far to both domestic and export markets. Due to the lack of available fruit early in the season, the FCAC is reporting free-on-board (f.o.b.) prices for both white and red seedless grapefruit of just under $15 per 4/5 bushel box. This is similar to last year, but about $3 per bushel higher than 2008/09, season-to-date.

Prices are likely to remain similar to last year based on reports of good quality and the potential for strong exports to Japan — the leading market for Florida’s fresh grapefruit — due to its strengthening currency.

Texas’ fresh grapefruit crop is forecast down 2 percent this season from last, with an expected crop of 220,000 tons. According to AMS shipment data, as of November 13, Texas’ grapefruit shipments were about 78 percent of the quantity shipped during the same period last season, with both domestic shipments and exports down.

Grapefruit juice supplies forecast about the same as last season

With Florida’s grapefruit production forecast just slightly lower than last season, ERS forecasts 2010/11 grapefruit juice production at 79 million sse gallons, about 3 percent above last season. The forecast is based on recent historic data showing a slightly higher average share of Florida’s grapefruit crop being utilized for processing in recent seasons than in the past (about 43 percent in the last 3 years compared to 41 percent earlier in the decade). Total supplies are forecast about the same as last year, at 125 million sse gallons, the second lowest quantity dating back to 1990.

Coming into this season, juice stocks were lower than last season but this is roughly offset by the expectation of slightly higher production. On the use side, slightly higher exports may offset a continued decline in domestic consumption, and ERS forecasts per capita grapefruit juice consumption to decline only slightly to 0.21 gallons per person. If realized, this would be the second lowest in the past 30 years.