Florida Growers Group: USDA Is Wrong on Oranges and Hurricane Irma

Florida State University

"One thing is clear, Florida's growers need support and they need it fast", Putnam said. "This may, temporarily, mean less Florida Orange Juice on grocery store shelves and a corresponding price increase", she said, without elaborating on how much the price hike will be.

The first word on Florida's 2017-2018 citrus crop is decidedly negative.

"I'm disappointed the USDA did not delay the traditional October crop estimate until more data could be collected to fully assess the damage", Michael W. Sparks, the group's chief executive officer, said in the statement.

"The agency could not accurately account for the full extent of the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Irma" last month, Florida Citrus Mutual said Thursday in a statement, less than an hour after the USDA released its numbers in Washington.

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Commissioner Putnam announced that Florida citrus sustained more than $760 million in damages. It's important to recognize that the damage to Florida citrus is still unfolding, and will continue to for some time.

"Before the hurricane, we were expecting more than 75 million boxes of oranges on the trees this season". Total specialty comes in at 1 million boxes. The record low was 4 million boxes in 1918.

The FMC survey predicts the 2017-2018 orange crop will be closer to 31 million boxes.

Just when the Florida citrus industry was hoping to rebound somewhat from the devastation caused by citrus greening in recent years, Irma came along and blew away a good part of this year's production. Groves are still under water in southwest Florida and state lawmakers are calling for immediate federal aid for producers.

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