Struggling Florida Citrus Growers Face Tough Decisions

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — Although the 2017-18 citrus harvest has barely begun, growers are already planning for the 2018-19 season, and they have critical decisions to make in the coming months that will affect next season’s crop and perhaps others in years to come.

Growers say all but the luckiest among them will profit in 2017-18. Because hurricane-force winds hit the state’s entire citrus-producing area south of Interstate 4, there aren’t many growers who escaped major damage.

Irma destroyed more than 50 percent of this season’s oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and tangelos. Before Irma, Florida’s citrus industry battled greening, a devastating disease.

The Ledger reports that when Florida will recover as the major supplier of orange juice to the U.S. market depends on when the state’s trees will return to pre-Irma production.