It appears Florida’s orange growers are finally getting a break after surviving pestilence and a deadly hurricane.
With season kicking off October 1st, the state may ship 70 million boxes of the fruit, according to the average estimate of four traders and analysts in a Bloomberg survey. That compares with 44.95 million the prior year, the smallest crop since 1945, government data show. The survey response range was 65 million to 80 million.
Florida orange shipments for the nation’s number one producing state has seen the growers leaving the business due to the the Asian citrus psyllid, a tiny winged insect that spreads the bacterial disease known as citrus greening. Greening has decimated groves and increased costs for crop maintenance. A year ago, the industry was clobbered by Hurricane Irma after the storm smashed into trees in September and damaged fruit.
Improved weather conditions has helped the crop to start coming back and as more growers develop methods to fight the greening disease. Output of 70 million boxes would be the biggest since 2015, according to statistics from the USDA. The agency will issue its first estimate for the upcoming season on October 11th. The citrus is shipped in 90-pound boxes.
The Highlands County Citrus Growers Association of Sebring, FL reports many citrus trees very good with the turn around. Tree leaves are reported having good structure and growers are placing emphasis on the nutrition of trees to fight greening.
The association members account for about 13 percent of the state’s shipments, will probably have up to 9 million boxes in the upcoming season. That compares with 5.5 million boxes a year earlier.
Hunt Brothers Cooperative in Lake Wales, FL report the battle with greening has increased costs at a time when American demand for orange juice is on the decline. Growers are estimated to be spending about $2,100 per acre today, up from $700 10 to 12 years ago.