The disease citrus greening and this year’s hurricanes are decimating the state’s orange crop. If trends continue, California could produce more oranges than Florida. According to numbers released Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects both will yield 46 million boxes this year. If the forecast holds, that would make for the smallest crop since the 1944 yield of just under 43 million boxes.
That doesn’t bode well for the state with an orange on its license plate, or the estimated 46,000 people employed by the industry.
The grower organization Florida Citrus Mutual expects the crop numbers to continue to decline. Some farms in the heart of the state’s citrus production areas saw 100% losses following this year’s storms.
The Florida Department of Agriculture calculates the monetary damages to the citrus industry to be $760 million. Commissioner Adam Putnam once again called for congressional aid for the state's growers.
"While much of the state has recovered and moved on from Hurricane Irma, Florida’s citrus growers continue to grapple with the unprecedented damage, which is still unfolding in many groves," Putnam said in a written statement. "Florida’s growers need support and they need it as quickly as possible."
Putnam says he and Governor Rick Scott will continue to lobby Congress to include funding for Florida's citrus industry in a federal hurriane relief package.