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Citrus Greening Eating Away At Florida Icon

Citrus Greening Ravages Crop
Citrus Greening Ravages Crop

A disease known as citrus greening continues to devastate Florida’s iconic crop. An expert warns time is running out for the state’s growers.

Citrus Greening Ravages Crop
Credit www.sealedsweet.com
Citrus Greening Ravages Crop

Harold Browning, chief operations officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, says scientists are making progress to slow the disease, but it may not be fast enough.

“Without some interventions to slow the decline of these trees to allow for the replanting of citrus, we’re not going to retain the citrus industry as we know it.”

Browning says the states’ half million acres of citrus groves, and the current annual production of 100 million boxes of oranges is about half of what it was a decade ago.

Peter Spyke, owner of The Orange Shop near Fort Peirce, said he and other growers didn’t recognize the disease when it first showed up in 2006. That meant they lost an opportunity to contain the spread.

“The first day you see the first tree with the first yellow limb you can’t begin to comprehend what a significant event that is.”

Spyke is a third generation grower and a grove manager. He grows his own crop on about 100 acres.

Browning gave the bad news to the Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday.

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Jim Ash is a reporter at WFSU-FM. A Miami native, he is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.
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