A growing number of farmers are migrating the citrus business north. HLB, or citrus greening, a quick-spreading disease moving through Florida's citrus orchards, is devastating orchards and prompting citrus farmers to consider opening up shop in new areas, including south Georgia.
Jake Price, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension's citrus specialist, said citrus greening first appeared in Florida circa 2005. Since then, production has plummeted by almost 75%. Currently, about 80% of trees in the state's citrus orchards test positive for the disease.
Florida mostly grows citrus for juice, whereas Georgia's industry largely sells fresh fruit. While the scale of production in Florida orchards has continued to grow over the years, offsetting some of the loss from the disease, Price said the industry is creeping northward and growing in Georgia to avoid the areas infected with greening.