Florida Oranges reduced 8 percent, Florida Grapefruit expected to remain at 4.65 million boxes
BARTOW – More than three months post-Hurricane Irma, Florida Citrus growers continue to see losses in the groves, according to a USDA forecast Tuesday projecting an additional 8 percent decline in production of oranges for the 2017-18 season.
The news comes as the Florida Citrus industry seeks consideration for federal emergency funding to support growers impacted by the hurricane.
“This second reduction underscores the dire need for federal disaster assistance,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus. “Florida Citrus growers are making decisions on next season’s crop now and they need to know they have the support necessary to keep this American icon alive.”
The USDA report predicts Florida Orange production for 2017-18 at 46 million boxes of oranges, a 33 percent decrease over last season. Florida Grapefruit is expected to produce 4.65 million boxes, a decrease of 40 percent.
Florida growers reported 30 to 70 percent crop loss after Hurricane Irma’s landfall on September 10, with the southwest region of the state receiving the most damage. The hurricane uprooted trees and left many groves sitting in standing water for up to three weeks, potentially damaging the root systems and impacting future seasons’ growth.
In October, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that Florida Citrus sustained more than $760 million in damages due to Hurricane Irma. Those numbers are expected to grow as the season continues.
About the Florida Department of Citrus
The Florida Department of Citrus is an executive agency of Florida government charged with the marketing, research and regulation of the Florida citrus industry. Its activities are funded by a tax paid by growers on each box of citrus that moves through commercial channels. The industry employs 45,000 people, provides an annual economic impact of $8.6 billion to the state, and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues that help support Florida’s schools, roads and health care services. For more information about the Florida Department of Citrus, please visit FloridaCitrus.org.