Orange Juice Futures Fall as Florida Growers Dodged Worst of Irma

By Carolyn Cui Features Dow Jones Newswires

Orange juice futures retreated Monday as Florida citrus growers seemed to have dodged the worst of Hurricane Irma.

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Frozen concentrated orange juice for November delivery tumbled 1.7% to settle at $1.5145 a pound on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange, giving back some of the gains it reaped last week as Irma approached Florida, a key growing state for juice. Orange juice futures surged 13% last week.

Irma weakened to a tropical storm but continued its march north Monday morning, dumping rain across Florida and lashing the state with powerful winds. But Irma's path was further to the west and didn't hit the center of the state directly.

"Absolutely there was some loss, but it was not total devastation, which was what the market was basically pricing in," said Judy Ganes Chase, founder of J. Ganes Consulting LLC.

Mrs. Chase said she hasn't heard of any radical damages at processing plants of big juice companies.

Meanwhile, Brazil, the world's largest grower, is expected to have a major crop this year, which would provide a buffer to what might have been lost in Florida. Brazilian fresh orange production is forecast at 471 million boxes, up from 352 million in 2016-2017 and the highest total since 2012-2013.

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Florida's oranges are mostly grown in the central part of the state. While the gusty winds and torrential rains brought by Irma have broken some branches and knocked off some premature fruits, Florida's groves have largely weathered the direct impact that they had suffered from previous storms that crisscrossed the state, Mrs. Chase said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to put out its first estimate for the 2017-2018 Florida crop next month. Last year's final estimate of 68.7 million boxes was the lowest output since 1964.

In other markets, raw sugar for October was up 1.4% to settle at 14.29 cents a pound, cocoa for December added 0.1% to close at $1,934 a ton, arabica coffee for December rose 0.9% to close at $1.3185 a pound and December cotton was down 3.3% to close at 72.11 cents a pound.

Write to Carolyn Cui at carolyn.cui@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 11, 2017 15:14 ET (19:14 GMT)