Florida Grapefruit Production May Reach 99-Year Low on Storms

December 15, 2017 10:00 AM
 

(Bloomberg) -- It’s not just the orange groves that were hit hard by Hurricane Irma -- Florida’s grapefruit harvest is now projected to fall to the lowest in nearly a century.

Production may only reach 4.65 million boxes in the current crop year, which would be the lowest output since 1919, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast earlier this week. Texas is aiming to shore up some lost output and next year could surpass Florida as the top grapefruit producer for the first time, according to USDA data. Still, the nationwide crop of 14.15 million boxes will be the smallest since 1930, less than half the harvest as recently as 2013.

Hurricane Irma in September nearly finished off a crop that’s already struggled with devastation from citrus greening disease for more than a decade, said Alan Hodges, an agricultural economist with the University of Florida in Gainesville. "There’s a question whether the industry will survive," he said. 

Still, he said, Florida remains central to U.S. grapefruit exports, and consumer demand has remained strong in spite of rising prices.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Bjerga in Washington at abjerga@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net, Tina Davis, Joe Carroll

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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