As Florida citrus is facing headwinds, US scientists are on the hunt for solutions

When Florida’s commissioner of agriculture, Wilton Simpson, took the stage at the annual Citrus Expo in Tampa, Florida, last month, the room full of farmers expected answers. When the floor opened to questions, one concerned attendee asked the question on everyone’s mind: “How can we get Florida back to its former glory of orange juice?”

It wasn’t news to anyone in the room that Florida, once famous for its citrus industry, is now struggling to produce enough high-quality fruit to fill grocery stores with its signature orange juice. And it’s not just oranges: grapefruits, tangerines, and lemons are also struggling. The problem is a plant disease known as “citrus greening” that Florida growers have been struggling with for two decades. “It’s not from lack of energy to want to solve the problem,” the commissioner explained. “The challenge that we have there is it takes so long to determine whether it actually works or not.”

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