THIS year's citrus crop could be down 15 per cent, according to early forecasts.
Shrinking: This year's citrus crop is expected to bear smaller fruit.
Murray Valley Citrus industry development officer Mary Cannard said measurements and fruit counts in the region over the past two months suggested a drop in both fruit size and volume.
Ms Cannard said the preliminary forecast was for 114,516 tonnes of citrus, including navel oranges (67,748 tonnes), valencia oranges (28,175 tonnes), mandarins (15,615 tonnes), grapefruit (1519 tonnes) and tangelos (1459 tonnes).
"The hectares have dropped a bit for early, mid and late season navels," she said.
"So we're forecasting about 17,000 tonnes of early season navels, nearly 19,000 tonnes of mid-season navels and nearly 32,000 tonnes of late-season navels."
A comparison of average sizes of four navel orange varieties over the past three years showed this year's fruit was bigger than 2011, but 4.5-9.3 per cent smaller than last year's crop at the same stage.
Ms Cannard said it was difficult to predict the valencia orange crop because it would not be picked until the end of the year and final numbers for 2012-13 were not yet available.
While the area of valencias in production had dropped by 187ha, fruit density was almost 11 per cent higher.
Ms Cannard said the area under mandarins was similar to last year, but crop density was higher, especially in afourers, also known as nadorcotts.
Afourers accounted for 40 per cent of last year's mandarin crop, with the proportion likely to rise to 42 per cent this year.
Citrus Australia market development manager Andrew Harty said crop estimates were still being calculated for other growing regions, including the Riverina, Riverland, Queensland and Western Australia, for release next month.
"It certainly doesn't appear to be a big crop," Mr Harty said.
"Last year was a very favourable fruit size profile, which was great for export."