Florida’s citrus acreage continued a long descent in 2018, decreasing 2 percent to 447,012 acres. The total number of acres is the least since the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service began keeping count in 1966. The 2018 count was released on Aug. 28.
There was a gross loss of 20,114 acres in 2018, partially offset by new plantings of 12,153 acres, leaving a net loss of 7,961 acres.
Grapefruit suffered the largest decline, tumbling from 36,084 acres in 2017 to 30,923 in 2018. Orange acreage dipped from 405,832 to 403,457, and specialty fruit dropped from 13,057 to 12,632 acres.
Of the 25 published counties included in the 2018 survey, 21 recorded decreased acres and 4 showed increases. Indian River County lost the most acres, 4,533. Highlands County had the highest acreage gain with an increase of 4,585. Polk County has the most citrus acres in the state, 67,770.
Florida’s citrus acreage has declined in every Commercial Citrus Inventory report issued since 1998. Losses since 2005 have been due primarily to the devastating citrus disease HLB. HLB is a bacterial disease that reduces tree productivity and often leads to growers abandoning their citrus groves because they are not economically feasible. The disease is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, and there is no known cure.
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