Florida’s Indian River area lies on the Atlantic Ocean and was the nearest Florida citrus region to Hurricane Dorian late Tuesday morning. Doug Bournique, Indian River Citrus League executive vice president, was optimistic that the region would escape major damage.
“It looks like it’s going to track about 80 to 100 miles off the coastline, which is wonderful for our industry,” Bournique said. “The grapefruit crop set is a good set, and the prices are decent for grapefruit … The last thing we needed was a storm to come ashore and take that crop away … Knock on wood, it’s not over yet.” But he pointed out that the latest storm advisory had Dorian staying offshore as it moves up Florida’s east coast.
Bournique pointed out that the Indian River region is “on the weak side of the (hurricane) eye … the drier side. So we’re not expecting a major impact to our industry if this forecast holds true.”
“There will be some light droppage (of grapefruit) from the storm winds, but a minor amount compared to what could have been,” Bournique predicted. He pointed out that most groves in the region now have windbreaks around them, which will help reduce the speed of any hurricane winds. “They (the windbreaks) were planted back around a decade ago” to slow spread of diseases, he says.
The Indian River region is renowned worldwide for its grapefruit, and is Florida’s major grapefruit-producing region. But grapefruit has proven extremely difficult to grow in the face of HLB, which was discovered in Florida in 2005. The region’s grapefruit production has plummeted even more drastically than other Florida citrus crops since the onset of HLB. The Indian River region’s grapefruit industry has also suffered major setbacks in previous hurricanes.
Hear more from Bournique in this interview with AgNet Media Founder and President Gary Cooper:
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