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Thinking about Florida’s citrus growers

According to different reports, the Florida citrus industry has been hit hard by Hurricane Ian. Even far away from the hurricane’s eye, tree stems are twisted and damaged. The citrus growing areas that were hit hardest and in or close to Ian’s path are in Polk, DeSoto and Hardee counties. Altogether, this area accounts for 36 percent of the state’s citrus production.

Long-term consequences
Although Ian will have a direct impact on production volumes this season, the situation could be worse, depending on how the trees made it through the storm. Fruit that fell off the trees will bring production numbers down for this season. However, damage to trees could significantly hurt production in years to come.

This coming season, Florida was already expected to have the smallest orange crop in 55 years as planted acreage has been falling due citrus greening. According to the USA, orange production is estimated to fall 13 percent to 3.5 million tons and is forecast to be below 2017/2018 levels when Hurricane Irma hit Florida. These were estimates from before the storm.

Florida’s oranges are known for their juice. Orange juice futures rose 1.1 percent to $1.9045 a pound after touching a five-year high on Thursday. Ian’s impact could increase the need for imports to the US, which currently meets 65 percent of its demand using supplies from other countries. Brazil is top producer of orange juice, but is seeing its lowest production in five years due to drought.

Photo: Dreamstime

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