The Florida citrus industry provides a $9 billion annual economic impact and employs nearly 76,000 people. It’s almost immeasurable as to how much damage the citrus greening issue is causing. Latest reports share another reduction of 4 million boxes produced last month.
With the freeze issues in California, we’re likely to see a squeeze in orange juice prices very soon. We’ll see increases in other items too, that use oranges and other produce effected by decreased production. The tight demand in the short term is good for growers’ returns, but it makes finding a resolution for these issues all the more important.
Strawberries aren’t doing much better. According to Wish Farms, one of Florida’s well known producers, unseasonal weather played havoc with strawberries. Fall conditions were too warm. And a cold, wet January slowed down production. Growers didn’t pack as many berries in December as they did in 2012, when production was almost too high. Growers said what they had were confused plants.
Growers are also banning together. On April 11, 350 citrus growers from around the Florida attended a conference on crop root damage. They were looking at damage caused by high levels of acid-neutralizing bicarbonates in irrigation water. This situation is what causes the greening-like root damage in citrus trees.
Some farmers are turning to blueberries, peaches and other new crops to fill the void. According to a Highlands Today article, at the start of 2014, several new crops represent the latest wave of new opportunities for growers. And because of its optimal growing conditions for most of the year, central Florida is uniquely poised to take advantage of those opportunities.
Now it’s your turn. Have you noticed price changes in your local produce market?