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Florida citrus slowly rebuilds

For the citrus industry in Florida, the focus was first and foremost on rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which struck in September 2017 and caused more than $760 million in damages to citrus crops, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Among affected growers, crop loss reports varied from 30 percent to as high as 70 percent.

This translated into significant decreases in orange and grapefruit production for the 2017-18 season, down 35 percent and 50 percent, respectively, year over year. Such numbers were not unexpected but nonetheless represented the worst harvest in over 70 years.

Through all this, growers and industry veterans tended to remain clear-eyed and, remarkably, optimistic.

Julio Ortuzar, director of imports at Boca Raton, FL-based Bova Fresh, LLC, readily acknowledges that the Florida citrus industry is changing, particularly for its two major crops, oranges and grapefruit. “Their volumes are lower year over year; it’s a difficult situation.”

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.