Immediately following the lowest federal crop forecast for Florida citrus in many decades, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Florida Department of Citrus Executive Director Shannon Shepp expressed optimism that the industry will strive to recover. Their statements referred to Hurricane Ian, which destroyed much fruit and damaged trees in major portions of the state’s citrus belt.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Oct. 12 forecast for Florida citrus showed decreases compared to the prior season of 32% for oranges, 40% for grapefruit and 7% for tangerines and tangelos. Losses for the 2022–23 season will actually be much larger than that, because the federal forecast reflected measurements taken prior to Hurricane Ian.
“It is heartbreaking to see such an iconic Florida industry hurting right now,” Fried said. “This year will be tough; no one is disputing that. But I believe in the tenacity and passion of our citrus industry professionals to come back stronger than ever. Side by side with our industry partners and stakeholders, I promise I will do everything in my power to secure all the available resources for Florida’s growers to recover from Hurricane Ian.”
Shepp noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture citrus forecast was released two weeks after Hurricane Ian devastated the citrus belt. “Hurricane Ian hit Florida citrus growers on many levels — their groves, their homes, their communities — all in the path of destruction,” said Shepp. “Growers approached this season with optimism for good reason. Innovations in greening therapies and the discovery of trees that show signs of natural resistance/tolerance to the disease are teed up for deployment. The hurricane is a setback, for sure, but we’ve done this before. We’ll have a lot of help; we know that. On the other side of storm recovery is an industry ready to take a clear set of new tools and do what they really want to do — rebuild and recover from greening.”
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