orange production

How Florida Orange Production Plummeted 92% in 20 Years

Daniel CooperFlorida, Production

orange production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) recently recounted how natural disasters and diseases have reduced Florida’s orange production by 92% since the 2003–04 season. 

USDA ERS noted that Florida’s citrus industry has long been susceptible to freezes, hurricanes and disease. It pointed out that a series of devastating freezes in the 1970s and 1980s caused production to shift to more southern regions of the state. “Then after near-record output in the 2003–04 season, subsequent events decreased Florida’s orange output at an average rate of 6% a year,” the agency stated.

USDA ERS recounted the following issues that occurred after 2003–04:


Between 2004 and 2005, four hurricanes reduced the size of the orange crop and further spread citrus canker, a bacterial disease damaging to tree health and fruit quality, to previously unaffected areas.


The Florida citrus industry faced an additional challenge in 2005, when citrus greening disease, a bacterial disease deadly to citrus trees, was first detected in its commercial groves. Citrus greening disease, also known as HLB, leads to premature fruit drop, unripe fruit and eventual tree death.

With no known cure, citrus growers use a variety of management strategies to protect young trees, increase tree immune response, sustain grove health and improve fruit marketability. While these management strategies can partially offset yield losses, they increase the costs of production.

MORE HURRICANES (2017 and 2022)

Hurricanes in 2017 and 2022 dealt further damage to Florida’s citrus industry. Since 2003–04, bearing acreage of Florida’s orange trees has declined at an average rate of 3% per year. In April, USDA forecast Florida orange production for 2023–24 at 846,000 tons, 19% higher than the previous year but the second-lowest harvest in nearly 90 years.

Source: USDA ERS

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