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After Irma, New Worry For Florida’s Beleaguered Citrus Industry

Greening is a disease that weakens citrus trees. The fruit becomes unusable. Photo by Amy Green / WMFE

Florida citrus growers are calling for federal help after Irma.

The hurricane dealt an unprecedented statewide blow to Florida’s $10 billion iconic crop, which already had been devastated by citrus greening disease.

Mike Sparks of Florida Citrus Mutual says growers have dropped fruit, toppled trees and standing water in their groves. He says south Florida is hardest hit.

“No doubt we’ve lost 70, 75 in some cases 100 percent of next year’s crop.”

Growers had been enjoying their strongest crop in recent years. Greening has left production down 70 percent from its peak some 20 years ago.

Citrus is the leading crop in the state, which is second behind Brazil in oranges for juice.

Sen. Marco Rubio says he is worried about whether growers will replant.

“You put yourself in the position of a small grower, or a large one for that matter, who is already dealing with a crop that has a lot of challenges associated with it. And then you lose a majority of your trees. You have to think about whether they even have the resources to rebuild, to replant.”

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment for 90.7 News. She is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a regular contributor for NPR, PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and many other top news organizations. Her in-progress book on the Everglades is under contract with Johns ... Read Full Bio »