USDA: $30 million to fight citrus greening

Citrus is big business in Florida but a disease is threatening the industry. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will spend $30 million to fight citrus greening. Local growers and sellers hope the government finds a cure soon.

The fruit inside Poinsettia Groves in Vero Beach comes from all over Indian River County.

“Our crew will go out and pick it, bring it back,” says owner Jeb Hudson. Hudson says citrus greening has forced them to go to more groves to find fruit to sell to their customers. He says the disease is spreading.

Less high quality fruit means Hudson and other sellers are paying higher prices.

“Navels used to cost us maybe $15 a box on the tree,” says Hudson, “This year we’re $20 to $22 and grapefruit that might have been $8 or $9 is $10 or $12 a box.”

The USDA said it will fund 22 projects to help fight citrus greening. It will focus on things like soil, pest control and one project will train dogs to sniff out infected trees.

Some estimates say greening has cut citrus production in half over the last decade. That means Hudson will have to look harder for the best oranges and grapefruit.

“They say greening is in every grove now but not every tree is going to have it,” says Hudson, “Even if a tree has it, not every piece of fruit.”

Source: wptv.com
 

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