The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects a 15% decrease in Florida’s orange production for the 2020-21 harvesting season.
Florida’s orange growers are predicted to harvest 57 million boxes of oranges this season, which is down from 67 million in 2019-2020.
The USDA also projects a 7% decrease in grapefruit production. Grapefruit production is projected to fall from 4.85 million boxes to 4.5 million.
Nikki Fried, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner, cited greening as a challenge that the Florida farmers have faced.
Florida Citrus describes citrus greening as a disease spread by an insect called the Asian citrus psyllid. “Greening impairs the tree’s ability to take in nourishment, ultimately resulting in fewer and smaller fruit over time. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure,” explained Florida Citrus.
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“Despite the challenges that Florida’s citrus growers have faced as a result of citrus greening (Huanglongbing disease), I continue to be encouraged by the resiliency of this industry, its producers, and their commitment to new plantings, research, and innovation,” Fried said in a statement.
“Since late spring, the Florida citrus industry has anticipated the 2020-21 citrus crop to be smaller than the prior season and today confirms that assumption. However, Florida Citrus production is a marathon, not a sprint, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stands committed to help strengthen and promote Florida-grown citrus,” he added.
Fox Business reported that farmers remain optimistic that a greening-resistant tree may be developed one day. Since 2008, at least $90 million has been spent on greening research.