Jim Snively of Southern Gardens Citrus reacts to the Oct. 12 USDA forecast of 54 million orange boxes for the 2017-18 season. He also addresses his company’s damage from Hurricane Irma and the storm’s long-term impact on the citrus industry.
“I think the number is as good as what we can ask for right now, with so much uncertainty, not really knowing what was there before (Hurricane Irma),” Snively says.
Snively says his company’s groves in Hendry County “took a pretty good hit … We had a lot of fruit loss, a lot of water. We’re continuing to see drop after the storm. The water damage, we feel, is not going to be that great because we did get the water off pretty quickly. It took us a few days, but we got it gone.” He says his trees suffered more damage than outright loss of trees. “There’s a lot of damage to the trees: broken limbs, broken twigs, heavy leaf loss … In a storm like this, our experience is it takes a couple years to overcome something like this.”
He speculates on Irma’s long-term impact on the industry. “Definitely we will recover; we’ll find our way. But we’re going to need some help. There’s no doubt about it that the income that a lot of the growers are going to receive from their crops is not going to be enough to cover the production costs or the harvesting costs combined. So we need some kind of help, and I know from experience the crop insurance will not do it.”
Hurricane Irma damaged all of Florida’s citrus belt to some extent on its Sept. 10-11 run through the state. Growers in some areas have reported crop losses as high as 100 percent, especially in the southwestern region of Florida.
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