Irma Contributing To Florida's Declining Citrus Forecast

Jan 12, 2018
Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan's twitter

The Florida orange usually fares well during the winter weather, but recent numbers show citrus crops were not able to weather hurricane Irma’s storm.

Orange tree
Steve Webel / Flickr

Experts predict a spike in the price of Florida’s citrus this upcoming harvest season, meaning slightly more revenue for the state’s farmers. But an unexpected increase in orange production could keep retail prices low.

Citrus greening is a bacterial disease that’s cut Florida’s citrus crops in half since it first struck the state’s trees in 2005. The lower supply has helped farmers fetch higher prices per orange. But, former University of Florida professor of agricultural economics Tom Spreen says farmers are still having a hard time breaking even.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Florida citrus growers are desperate for relief from a disease blamed for killing about half their crops in less than a decade. Many in the multi-billion-dollar industry hope to plant experimental trees they’d consider highly risky under normal conditions. But hurdles remain before they’ll have the chance.

Fred Gmitter has just discovered the first signs of greening disease on a 15-year-old tree.

“So, you’re here at a very bad time for me,” he says.