WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its March

Crop Production report forecast 2008-09 U.S. all orange production at 9,048,000 tons (209.4 million boxes) as of March 1, up 1% from its February forecast but 11% below last year.

The increase resulted from higher production forecast in California more than offsetting reduced outturn in Florida.

California’s all orange crop was forecast at 1,857,000 tons (49.5 million 75-lb boxes), up 6% from the previous forecast but down 23% from 2007-08. California’s valencia orange production was forecast at 563,000 tons (15 million boxes), up 25% from the previous forecast but down 6% from a year ago. Early, midseason and navel orange production in the state was forecast at 1,294,000 tons (34.5 million boxes), unchanged from the prior forecast but down 29% from 2007-08.

Florida 2008-09 orange production was forecast at 7,110,000 tons (158 million 90-lb boxes), unchanged from the February forecast but down 7% from 2007-08. Florida’s early, midseason and navel production was forecast at 3,825,000 tons (85 million boxes), up 2% from February and a year ago while valencia production was forecast at 3,285,000 tons (73 million boxes), down 3% from February and 16% below a year ago.

"Weather conditions over the past two months have had a significant impact on remaining oranges," the U.S.D.A. said concerning the Florida crop. "Two freezes, one in late January and one in early February, caused some damage to unharvested fruit, primarily for late orange varieties. Also, citrus producing areas received minimal precipitation during the winter months, resulting in drought conditions."

Florida’s frozen concentrated orange juice yield for 2008-09 was forecast at 1.64 gallons per box at 42 degrees Brix, up 2% from February but down 2% from 2007-08.

Most of California’s crop is utilized as fresh oranges while most of Florida’s crop is made into juice.

U.S. lemon production for 2008-09 was forecast at 817,000 tons (21.5 million 76-lb boxes), unchanged from February but up 16% from last year.