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Florida seeing decline in orange production

Posted at 12:24 AM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 00:24:09-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report Tuesday announcing January production of oranges is down three and a half percent from their predictions.

Experts say a combination of bad weather and a bacterial disease called citrus greening is affecting the crops.

"It affects the tree itself and its ability to yield fruit. It kinda clogs the arteries so to speak of the tree and so it produces fewer boxes than it did without the disease," says Steve Smith, Vice President of The Gulf Citrus Growers Association.

Smith says orange trees are working twice as hard to produce a quarter of the fruit.

Florida is the second-largest producer of oranges in the world and the decrease in production means we will see fewer oranges make it to the supermarket.

The timing for the industry couldn't be worse as it is one of the few businesses that’s growing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The pandemic we actually saw an increase in orange juice sales. When people were staying at home, eating breakfast at home. They were also turning to something that would help boost their immune system or they felt like was a good healthy drink," says Smith.

The decrease in supply could also increase the price of oranges and orange juice in grocery stores.

Smith says that scientists are working hard to find a cure for the disease ruining orange crops but until then farmers will keep working to supply the state with as many oranges as possible.