Report: Florida citrus industry's in a 'precarious state'

03/26/2013 08:33:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

orange juiceCourtesy Agricultural Research ServiceThe Florida Department of Citrus has released a long-range forecast that shows the outlook for the state's citrus industry "continues to be in a precarious state."

The report issued that outlook because of increased tree mortality due to citrus greening, high on-tree fruit prices that are not sustainable and declining orange juice consumption.

More than 90 percent of Florida's orange crop goes into juice.

The report analyzes production projections and consumption scenarios from 2014-15 through 2022-23.

To help return long-term sustainability to the industry, the report recommends new tree plantings and modest market growth.

The number of orange trees in the state continues to decline from a peak of about 80 million between 2002-2006 to the current approximately 60 million, according to the report.

Grapefruit have taken an even larger dive, going from a peak of about 14 million trees in 1998 to the current approximately 5 million.

Tree numbers across all citrus varieties continue to decline over time, and tree mortality rates are higher than pre-hurricane levels but stable in recent years, according to the report.

The reason for the decline is huanglongbing or citrus greening, a bacterial disease that can weaken and even kill citrus trees.

New tree plantings remain historically low and are only replacing about 50 percent of orange trees that are lost.

Average yields for oranges and grapefruit are lower than pre-2004 levels.

The report looked at different replacement scenarios from the current 50 percent to a high of 125 percent.

The report also presented different scenarios for grower returns based on fruit prices, as well as examining different scenarios for orange juice consumption.

View the complete report at

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