Continued investment required to sustain Florida Citrus industry, report says

“All forecasts point to the immediate need for solutions to suppress the impact of HLB”

BARTOW, Fla. – A long-range production report presented to the Florida Citrus Commission Wednesday emphasized the need to increase tree yields and replantings in order to sustain the future of the Florida Citrus industry – moves already underway at this time.

Presented by University of Florida Professor Emeritus and Economist Thomas Spreen, the report examined several long-range production scenarios for oranges and grapefruit over the coming decade period.

Forecasts varied widely due to the use of different historical data and tree replanting scenarios. Increased tree replanting and yields could result in 107 million boxes of oranges and 13.4 million boxes of grapefruit in 2025-26.

However, a scenario extrapolating trends from only the previous four seasons, during which the industry experienced substantially decreased per tree yield, dipped the forecast to 27 million boxes of oranges and 4.5 million boxes of grapefruit in 2025-26. This scenario does not account for further solutions to citrus greening deployed during the time frame.

“No matter what assumptions are made, all forecasts point to the immediate need for solutions to suppress the impact of HLB,” Spreen said.

Long-run sustainability, relevance, and impact can be realized with new tree plantings, increased per tree yields, and modest market growth, according to the report.

Strides have been taken in recent years by several entities to increase tree replanting. As part of the 2014 Farm Bill, the Tree Assistance Program provides financial assistance to qualified growers for the purpose of replanting diseased citrus trees.

The producer of Florida’s Natural, Citrus World, is also supporting replanting with a $10 million incentive program that provides monetary support to help overcome the cost and risk of replanting.

The Coca-Cola Company committed to the purchase of approximately $2 billion of oranges produced by new groves enabling growers to plant 25,000 acres. Working with Peace River Citrus Products and Cutrale Citrus Juices, Coke will purchase all fruit produced by these trees for the next 20 years.

“These forecasts are exactly why, season after season, it is crucial that our growers and industry reinvest,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. “We know replanting makes an impact, and that impact will only increase as new tools to fight citrus greening are developed. The Florida Citrus industry is resilient, and I’m confident we will remain the state’s signature crop for years to come. In the meantime, as the report indicated, it is imperative we stay connected with consumers and continue to promote Florida Citrus.”

About the Florida Citrus Commission

The Florida Citrus Commission is the governing board of the Florida Department of Citrus, an executive agency of the Florida government charged with the marketing, research and regulation of the Florida citrus industry. The commission is a nine-member board appointed by the governor to represent citrus growers, processors and packers. FDOC activities are funded by a tax paid by growers on each box of citrus that moves through commercial channels. The industry employs nearly 62,000 people and provides an annual economic impact of nearly $10.7 billion to the state. For more information about the Florida Department of Citrus, please visit FloridaCitrus.org.