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Florida braces for big dip in orange production

Friday, January 15th 2021, 3:44 pm - Canada is a big importer of Florida oranges.

A new report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts orange production will be down about 20 per cent in the 2020-2021 season when compared to the previous year.

The government body is predicting 54 million boxes will be produced, making it the smallest batch since 2017 and the second smallest crop since 1947, Bloomberg reports.

Florida oranges have been declining for more than twenty years, a trend that has accelerated due to a disease called 'citrus greening.'

The insect-borne bacteria, also referred to as Huanglongbing, HLB, or yellow dragon disease, create discoloured, bitter-tasting oranges. Once a tree has become infected, there is no cure.

HLB was first reported in parts of Asia and Africa in the 1940s, reaching Florida in 2005. It spread quickly, hitting most Florida citrus farms by 2008.

USDA - citrus greening File photo [courtesy](Florida Division of Plant Industry Archive, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org): Florida Division of Plant Industry Archive, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org

NOT ALL BAD NEWS

“While a decline in production is never welcome news, there is positivity to be found elsewhere in the industry,” Shannon Shepp, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Citrus said in a statement.

“Grapefruit production is up, growers continue to make great strides against citrus greening, and consumers are more focused on health and wellness than ever before. We remain committed to growing Florida Orange Juice as “The Original Wellness Drink” and ensuring Florida Citrus stays top of mind for consumers around the globe."

While about 95 per cent of Florida's oranges are used to make juice, Canada is one of the state's biggest orange importers, second to Japan.

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Thumbnail image courtesy of USDA

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