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Citrus greening

Florida's citrus industry got some dire news Tuesday from an organization that advises the federal government on science and technical matters.

A Florida judge is ordering the state agricultural department to immediately pay residents their share from a class-action lawsuit filed after the state removed their citrus trees.

Lee Circuit Judge Keith Kyle's ruling Tuesday follows a saga in which the state destroyed nearly 34,000 residential trees under the failed citrus canker eradication program in 2000.

Nearly 12,000 Lee County households are part of the suit filed 15 years ago.

A spokeswoman for the agriculture department told the News-Press they're reviewing the ruling.

Lynne Sladky/AP

Thousands of Florida homeowners who had healthy citrus trees cut down by the state are finally going to get paid for their losses.

By P. Barkley - Biological and Chemical Research Institute, Bugwood.org, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22937790

Florida's citrus growers haven't had it easy lately, after being buffeted by canker and citrus greening. Now, they have another nemesis to worry about - citrus black spot.

Federal officials have already slapped a quarantine on exports of fruit grown in parts of Collier and Hendry counties, as well as an area along the Polk-Highlands County line.

Florida homeowners with citrus trees on their property now have a new tool to fight off deadly citrus greening disease: parasitic wasps.

Reflecting the industry’s sagging fortunes, the Florida Citrus Commission is recommending a 22 percent spending cut. 

Florida Citrus Mutual

This week on Florida Matters, we're revisiting a discussion on the breathtaking decline in Florida's citrus industry. We're also learning about new farming and research methods that show promise for the industry's future.

 


The state is spending $4 million to remove abandoned orange groves across Florida. That’s about four times the budget state agriculture officials had in past years for this effort. 

Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio met with Southwest Florida citrus growers Friday in Immokalee to discuss challenges facing the industry and how the federal government can help.  The bacterial disease, citrus greening, has decimated the industry over the past decade, reducing crop yields by 70 percent compared to where they stood twenty years ago. 

Scott Young

The disease called citrus greening has wreaked havoc on our state's most iconic industry. Florida is harvesting the smallest citrus crop in 52 years. 

State and federal dollars have been pouring into frantic efforts to save groves. Some of the efforts seem to be paying off. But is it too late for the small family farms?

AP

The disease called citrus greening has wreaked havoc on our state's most iconic industry. Florida is harvesting the smallest citrus crop in 52 years. 

Researchers: Closer To Finding Citrus Greening Cure

Oct 19, 2016
Flikr / Creative Commons

Research scientists at the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center say they are on the cusp of finding a cure for greening disease.

Citrus Land Drop-Off Continues Across Florida

Sep 14, 2016
Marie Coleman / Flickr

Coming off their worst harvest in five decades, citrus growers in Florida have fewer acres to work with as they struggle to maintain the state's signature crop against an incurable bacterial disease.

Flikr / Creative Commons

Florida citrus growers could save more than $11 million in taxes they pay on boxes of oranges and grapefruit under a proposed Department of Citrus budget that would trim jobs to meet the demands of a troubled industry.

The department, which would see its staff shrink from 39 to 23, released a proposed $20.6 million budget Monday for next fiscal year. The proposed spending plan would be 31.9 percent below the current year's $30.3 million operating budget.

The cost of fighting a disease that’s ravaging Florida’s citrus industry is triggering growers to abandon their groves. Citrus greening causes orange trees to decline and die within a few years. And there’s no cure right now.  These “grove graveyards” become breeding grounds for the disease.

Florida Citrus Growers: Greening Infects 80 Percent Of Trees

Apr 22, 2016

The vast majority of Florida's citrus industry is being impacted by a bacterial disease known as citrus greening or Huanglongbing, according the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Amy Green/WMFE

Florida researchers believe they are closer to a cure for citrus greening.

Citrus Forecast Improves But ‘Trying Times’ Remain

Mar 10, 2016

Citrus growers received some good news about the outlook for this year's crop, but the long-term prognosis remains dire for the industry threatened by greening disease.

AP

Florida’s “brand” and $10-billion economic driver, the citrus industry, could be headed for collapse if stop-gap measures aren’t found to slow citrus greening, said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“What we don’t want to see is this catastrophic collapse of a 300,000 acre industry where you have fire sale real estate prices and you end up with a sprawl,” Putnam said.

In citrus-growing areas, you see lots of old converted school buses on the road; these are company buses, carrying the workers who will harvest oranges and grapefruit. And in the evening, some of those buses roll into a truck stop on a two-lane country road south of the town of LaBelle. Young men scramble out, trot into the store and line up at the taco counter.

This is where I met Esteban Gonzalez and his brother Isaac, from the Mexican state of Veracruz.

AP

  Florida's orange crop remains unchanged from last month, but the state's grapefruit crop declined slightly.

Florida's Orange Crop In 'Free Fall'

Dec 10, 2015

The outlook for production of Florida oranges, the state's signature crop, continues to drop.

University of Florida researchers say they have developed genetically modified citrus trees that are resistant to greening. It is a significant step against the disease that has devastated Florida's $11 billion citrus industry and is among the worst to hit a US crop.

Nelson To Talk Greening With Citrus Growers

Oct 13, 2015

  Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is meeting with citrus growers in Lakeland today and will likely hear how citrus greening and the Oriental fruit fly are taking a big bite out of their crop. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting a Florida orange crop of 80 million boxes for the 2015- 16 season. That’s 17 percent lower than last season.

For the first time in years, Florida citrus growers are juiced at the prospect of getting a new defense against citrus greening, the bacterial disease slowly killing their trees, perhaps as early as spring.

wikipedia.com

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released bleak numbers on Florida's citrus crop for the 2014-2015 season, reporting a decline in the orange harvest of more than 60 percent since the peak of production.

The report, which is the final one of the season, was released Friday. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the statistics are a "new low" for Florida citrus.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering $23 million dollars in grant funding to combat citrus greening. The entire state of Florida is in a quarantine for the disease that causes trees to produce bitter fruit and eventually die.

Citrus greening, which has laid waste to vast swaths of Florida's famed orange groves, has definitely gotten the attention of the federal government.

Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced he was allocating $30 million for 22 projects to help citrus producers combat citrus greening. It's considered one of the most serious citrus plant diseases in the world. It's also known as Huanglongbing, or yellow dragon disease. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure.

Citrus producers might have another tool for their fight against citrus greening.

Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner is asking for close to $20 million in this year’s budget to combat citrus greening. This comes as the most recent forecast is showing a further citrus crop decline.

Following Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting,  says citrus growers have it hard.

“We’re in the fight for the industry’s life,” said State Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam, following Tuesday's Cabinet meeting. “Florida’s signature crop continues to decline, continues to feel the effects as a result of the spread of citrus greening.”

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