15th September 2017

Hurricane Irma and the damage to the Florida citrus industry

Official bodies representing the citrus industry in Florida have issued the following comments in the aftermath of the severe damage caused by hurricane Irma to citrus crops in the State: 

“Given the size of the storm, Hurricane Irma’s impact is wide and far-reaching across the state of Florida. With the storm having passed through Monday, Florida Citrus growers are still in the process of assessing damage to their crops.  It is safe to say, however, that the storm has resulted in significant damage to the Florida Citrus industry. Before Hurricane Irma, we were expecting more than 75 million boxes worth of oranges on the trees this season.  Due to the storm, we now have much less. In addition to fruit loss due to wind, some growers also are dealing with uprooted trees. Agricultural emergency declarations exist for types of natural disasters like this.” Said Shannon Shepp, Executive Director, Florida Department of Citrus in a statement. 

Source: Florida Department of Citrus 

“It’s still too early to know the full extent of the damage to Florida citrus. But after touring groves on foot and by air, it’s clear that our signature crop has suffered serious and devastating losses from Hurricane Irma.” Reported Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam after he took an aerial tour to survey areas impacted by Hurricane Irma, including citrus groves in Central and Southwest Florida. 

Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services 

“Based on grower reports, citrus crop loss may be in the 50% to 70% range in some areas”, commented Lisa Lochridge, director of public affairs with the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. She went on to say many groves were flooded and it would take growers a while to get all of that excess water pumped out. In the meantime, standing water in groves can increase the chance of disease to the roots. Harvesting was due to begin in November, and the state’s volumes are now set to be much lighter. “The damage estimates vary, depending on the area of the state hit. South Florida damage is more severe. Based on reports from the field, it’s estimated that there’s a 50 to 70 percent crop loss in South Florida, depending on the region,” Lisa said. “Losses are slightly less going north, but Irma cut a powerful swath through the epicenter of Florida’s citrus-growing region.” 

Source: Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association/Fresh Fruit Portal 

By Caroline Calder News Share:

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