Posts Tagged “citrus acreage”

90% of Florida Citrus Acreage is Hit by Greening

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citrusGreeningThe citrus greening disease has infected as much as 90 percent of Florida’s citrus acres.

According to a report from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,  citrus greening, also known as HLB and huanglongbing, has also infected 80 percent of Florida’s citrus trees.

The survey, conducted in March 2015, represents the first grower-based estimates of the level of infection in Florida and the effect it is having on the state’s citrus operations.

About 200 growers to estimate their losses from the disease in a survey by Ariel Singerman, an assistant professor in the Gainesville-based university’s food and resource economics department, and Pilar Useche, an associate professor.

The researchers obtained about 76 completed surveys and the growers surveyed operate approximately 30 percent of Florida’s citrus acreage.

The growers also estimate greening has reduced their yields by 41 percent, according to a news release.

On average for any given Florida citrus operation, greening has affected 90 percent of acreage and 80 percent of trees, according to the survey.

“Even though the industry acknowledges that greening has reached epidemic proportions across the state, estimates of the level of infection and its impact on citrus operations are scarce,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

Greening was first detected in Florida in 2005 and the disease has caused the state to lose about $7.8 billion in revenue, 162,200 citrus acres and 7,513 jobs, according to the report.

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Florida Citrus Shipments Continue 19-Year Decline

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DSCN2885+1The continued decline of Florida’s commercial citrus industry, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently, surprised nobody.

Total citrus acreage continued its 19-year decline with another 3 percent fall in grove land to 501,396 acres compared to 515,147 acres last year. Those groves also had 2 percent fewer trees since 2014 with a total of 66.9 million trees, down from 68.1 million trees a year ago.

“These are the lowest numbers in the series across the board,” said Candi Erick, administrator at the USDA’s Florida Field Office in Maitland, which oversees the annual citrus census.

Erick was referring to the 49-year census series back to 1966, when the USDA began its current aerial survey method. USDA officials met with a growers’ advisory board at the Florida’s Natural Growers Grove House.

The new survey showed 12,343 acres of new citrus groves planted over the year, the highest total since 2009, but the increase was not enough to overcome the loss of 26,094 grove acres since 2014, she said. On the bright side, Erick said, most of the acreage removed was probably abandoned or marginally productive groves.

Of greater concern to growers is the decline in the value of the citrus crop.

The USDA reported the preliminary on-tree value of the 2014-15 Florida citrus crop at $1 billion, a 12 percent decline from a revised value of nearly $1.2 billion in the 2013-14 crop. A year ago, USDA had valued the 2013-14 crop at $946.5 million.

Because of rising costs and declining value, the 2014-15 season was a tough one economically for most growers, said Larry Black, a Fort Meade-based grower and president of Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Mutual, the state’s largest growers’ trade group. Grove caretaking costs have risen to about $2,200 per acre, triple the costs just 15 years ago.

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