The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts a roughly 6 percent drop in Florida orange production compared with last year. Orange growers are contending with a variety of challenges that have plagued them for the last decade.
Crop projections released Friday reflect long-term crop losses due mostly to citrus greening disease. Andrew Meadows is spokesman for Florida Citrus Mutual, a trade association representing 8,000 growers. He says, despite orange production falling by half in ten years, the industry remains optimistic.
“Growers have spent upwards of $60 million in the last six years on hundreds of research projects, so we’ve really put a full-court press on greening in the laboratory, and we’re seeing results," he says.
Meadows says Florida is still the world’s No. 2 orange producer behind Brazil and the industry contributes $9 billion to the state economy every year. And he says the downward production trend could have one positive effect for growers: they can charge orange juice producers more for the scarcer fruit.