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Florida Matters

Florida Matters: The Florida Citrus Industry

An orange blossom grows alongside some ripening fruit. There's a concern over deadly citrus greening, a condition where an insect causes bacteria to grow on the leaf.

Florida's citrus industry is hurting in a big way.  The final report of the growing season by the U.S. Department of Agriculture put Florida orange production for the 2014-15 season at 96.7 million boxes, a drop of 4 percent from last year.

This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 9 at 7:30 a.m.), we take a look at the future of Florida’s signature crop -- and the fight against citrus greening -- with Mike Sparks, the executive vice president and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, and Kevin Bouffard, a senior reporter with The Ledger of Lakeland.

This season was the first time in 49 years that production dipped below 100 million boxes, Bouffard said.

Florida Matters: The Florida Citrus Industry
Listen to the full discussion on the Florida citrus industry here.

The bleak numbers on Florida’s citrus crop show a decline in the orange harvest of more than 60 percent since the peak of production during the 1997-98 season.

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

Much of the decline is due to the deadly citrus greening disease. Greening is spread by a gnat-sized insect called the Asian citrus psyllid.