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ORANGE PRICES SKYROCKET: Farmer blames hurricanes and a disease

For example - frozen orange juice concentrate is 41% more expensive than it was this time last year.
How a crop-eating disease and Hurricane Ian are causing orange prices to skyrocket
Posted at 12:46 PM, Jun 05, 2024

LABELLE, Fla. — Orange prices are getting expensive at the grocery store, and it could get worse.

"The hurricane just destroyed the crop," said Wayne Simmons, President of LaBelle Fruit Company

Simmons says after hurricanes Irma and Ian, things haven't been the same.

"A little far north, the trees actually got uprooted," said Simmons. "We didn't quite get trees uprooted. It's just another blow that we're having to deal with that really didn't need it with the situation with Citrus Greening."

The US Department of Agriculture says citrus greening is one of the world's most serious citrus diseases and has killed off millions of acres of citrus crops in the US and abroad.

"It's vectored by an Asian Citrus Psyllid, a nat-like insect, very similar to mosquitos spreading malaria," said Simmons. "Slow somewhat of a death. We've basically been dealing with it for 20 years and no known cure."

Simmons says this means he has to give extra attention to his crops, and time is money.

"Here in Florida we're facing so many costs, input costs, fertilizer costs, chemicals, things like that, and lower production," said Simmons. "It's not a win-fall situation we're just hanging on and certainly increased prices help us stay in business maybe a little bit longer."

It's something the rest of us will feel at the grocery store.

For example - frozen orange juice concentrate is 41% more expensive than it was this time last year.

Simmons says unless there is a cure for Citrus Greening, we can expect the prices to continue to rise.