Data from the Citrus Producers' Defense Fund (Fundecitrus) shows a 56 percent spike in the presence of greening disease in Brazil's citrus belt, which straddles the states of Sio Paulo and Minas Gerais.
The incidence of greening disease has increased in each of the past six years, jumping from 24 percent in 2022 to 38 percent this year. It was the largest percentage increase since 2008.
Brazil reserves about 800,000 hectares for orange plantations, being the country's largest fruit crop. The country accounted for 38 percent of orange juice exports in 2021, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity.
One of the main causes of the spread of greening, according to Fundecitrus, has been the practice of keeping diseased trees in commercial orchards, especially in production, with insufficient control of the plant-feeding insects — greening has become more and more resistant to pesticides.
Other factors have contributed to the spread. In the 12 months through July 2023, the state of Sio Paulo experienced 24 percent more rainfall than usual. As a result, temperatures became milder, which favored the sprouting of trees.