Citrus Greening

tpmartins / Flickr / Creative Commons

Florida is the largest citrus producer in the U.S. and the second largest producer of orange juice in the world. The industry has a $9 billion a year economic impact on the state accounting for about 76,000 jobs. Not long ago, citrus groves covered about 800,000 acres of land in Florida. Today, that’s down to just over 400,000 acres due in large part to the devastating impacts of citrus diseases like greening. The disease, which originated in Southern China, was first discovered in South Florida in 2005 and has since become endemic throughout the state’s citrus producing regions.

This week, just as the U.S. Department of Agriculture reduced its citrus harvest estimate for the current season, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putman announced he’s calling on lawmakers to increase funding to fight greening and secure the industry’s future. Meanwhile the Fort Myers-based Alico, Inc. announced last month it’s buying three citrus operations in central Florida for $363 million dollars making the company the largest citrus producer in the U.S. We’ll explore the status of Florida’s current citrus crop, the value of the state’s citrus industry and ongoing efforts to develop new strategies to combat greening. 

Ashley Lopez / WGCU

Local citrus industry leaders met in Fort Myers Wednesday. They discussed—among other things— the $2 million awarded by the state Legislature for a research center in Immokalee.

David / Creative Commons

Tucked inside a $77 billion budget is $2 million for the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, an agriculture research facility in Immokalee.

Magnus Franklin/Flickr

The federal government will give the Florida Department of Agriculture $5.4 million through the federal Farm Bill to fight a range of diseases and invasive species.

The money will help combat Giant African Land Snails around Miami, the laurel wilt affecting Florida’s avocado production, and disease and pest threats to the state’s honeybees.

Chris Fannin via Flick / Wikimedia Creative Commons

Look for Florida Peaches and Florida Olives on store shelves soon! The term ‘Florida Agriculture’ typically brings to mind the state’s $9 billion a year citrus industry or the myriad vegetable varieties that make up the bulk of the nation’s domestic produce in the winter, but Florida olives and peaches are now growing industries in the state.  

As the bacterial disease greening continues to ravage citrus groves, growers are looking more to these types of alternatives.  We’ll learn more about growing peaches and olives in the state’s subtropical growing regions.