Florida citrus preparing for historic downturn

by | Feb 9, 2023


  • Florida’s citrus industry is expected to suffer a 50 percent drop in production in 2022-23, according to the Florida Department of Citrus.
  • The decline is due to hurricanes Ian and Nicole and recurring deep freezes.
  • Total losses to commercial citrus producers in the state are estimated to be between $387.8 million and $635.5 million.
  • The demand for Florida citrus is expected to remain high, but reduced overall availability could impact the national market consumption.

Florida’s citrus industry is predicted to suffer a fifty percent drop in production compared to 2022, according to the Florida Department of Citrus (FDoC) analysis. The state agency attributes the predicted downturn to hurricanes Ian and Nicole and recurring deep freezes.

FDOC expects 18 million boxes of oranges to be produced in Fiscal Year 2022-23, a 56 percent decline compared to the year prior, 1.5 million boxes of grapefruits, a 55 percent decline, and 500,000 boxes of tangerines, which amounts to a 33 percent drop in production. Industry analysts state that Florida processors will be forced to rely on imports and domestic receipts to meet the current market demand.

In totality, total losses to commercial citrus producers in the state are forecasted to fall between $387.8 million and $635.5 million.

“It’s no secret that Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole left the heart of citrus country with a long road to recovery, but Florida growers have worked to recover from extreme weather before, and this year is no exception,” said the agency in a statement. “The Florida Department of Citrus is working alongside industry leaders and elected officials to help ensure Florida citrus growers have the assistance necessary while they continue to replant, rebuild, and work toward long-term solutions in the industry’s fight against citrus greening.”

In a presentation given to the Florida Senate, the FDoC told lawmakers that more than 375,000 acres of commercial citrus farms faced production losses due to hurricane or tropical storm-force winds, resulting in between $146.9 million and $304.3 million in production loss. Agency representatives also stated that between 8 and 11 percent of the state’s citrus trees were damaged or destroyed during hurricanes and Nicole.

A cost analysis estimate conducted by the University of Florida posited that overall state agriculture loss in Florida due to the hurricanes amounted to at least $1.5 billion dollars. Agriculture is Florida’s second-largest industry behind tourism.

In the current fiscal year, Florida is projected to account for approximately 70 percent of all domestically produced orange juice, according to FDoC. Demand for Florida Citrus is anticipated to remain high through the current agricultural season, but reduced overall availability could impact national market consumption.

The citrus forecast comes after the 2021-22 season marked its lowest production since World War II. Growers and farmers again pointed to a winter freeze hindering production last year.

According to industry leaders, Florida Citrus has been on a downward trend for two decades because of issues such as residential and commercial development, foreign imports, and an incurable bacterial disease known as citrus greening.

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