2023-24 orange harvest totaled 307,22 million boxes

Below-average rainfall, small fruits and greening impact production, maintaining the projected value in December 2023

10.04.2024 | 15:51 (UTC -3)
Rebeca Come Terra

The closing of the 2023/24 orange harvest in the São Paulo and Triângulo/Southwest Mineiro citrus belt, published today by Fundecitrus, is 307,22 million boxes of 40,8 kg, maintaining the value projected in the December 2023 review This season's production was 2,22% lower compared to the previous harvest, which reached 314,21 million boxes, and was 0,69% below the first estimate, released in May 2023. 

Unfavorable weather conditions were a determining factor in the reduction in production in relation to initial expectations, explains the coordinator of the Fundecitrus Harvest Estimation Survey, Vinícius Trombin. “The transition from the rainy first semester in 2023 to a precipitation deficit in the second semester, which lasted until the end of the season in 2024, impacted orange tree production. Average precipitation in the belt during this period fell significantly, while temperatures have risen sharply since the arrival of the El Niño phenomenon in June last year, which led to greater evapotranspiration and a reduction in soil moisture”, he details. 

Furthermore, the worsening of greening and the faster harvest this season, which shortened the development period of the oranges, also had an impact. “The combination of these factors resulted in smaller fruit sizes than expected from mid-season and late varieties. And although the accelerated pace of the harvest harmed the growth of oranges, it also had a positive effect, helping to reduce fruit losses caused by premature falling”, he comments. 

Current scenario: fruit drop rate and fruit size 

The faster pace of harvest was a strategy to slow the rate of fruit drop and reduce production losses, however, the rate of fruit drop still remained above historical levels, especially due to the impact of greening. 

The accumulated rate since the beginning of the harvest was 19,0%, and the loss of production resulting from premature fruit fall was estimated at 72 million boxes. Among the reasons for fruit falling, the main one in this harvest was greening, 8,35% of the total 19%, which represents 32 million boxes that fell prematurely. Next, among the pests and diseases, came ferrets and fruit flies (together, 5,05%). 

In third place, the category that covers natural fall (2,00%) and mechanical fall (1,02%), followed by other factors. In relation to the average size of fruits harvested from all varieties, 255 fruits were needed to compose a 40,8 kg box, indicating an increase of eight fruits in relation to the estimate made in May. The average weight of these fruits was 160 grams, lower than the initially predicted weight of 165 grams, and also lower than the average weight over the last 10 years, which is 163 grams per fruit. 

The Harvest Estimation Survey is carried out by Fundecitrus in partnership with Markestrat, and professors from FEA-RP/USP and FCAV/Unesp. 

2024/25 harvest estimate

The orange harvest estimate and tree inventory will be released on the 10th of

May 2024, at 10 am, in an in-person event at Fundecitrus.

Click on the link below to access the 2023/24 orange harvest closing report: 

LS Tractor February