Beleaguered Florida Citrus Continues its Slide

Richard Lyons’ Nursery for some time has been warning consumers of the dangers of citrus greening, the prime cause of the decline in Florida’s signature fruit crop. There is still no known cure for the disease.

The first federal citrus crop forecast for 2016-17 is not an optimistic one for Florida. The National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) is predicting that, compared to 2015-16, which was itself weak, orange production in the state will decline by 14% and grapefruit production by 11.5%. In a press release addressing that forecast, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner, Adam Putnam, noted that citrus production in the state is down 70% from its level 20 years ago, and stressed that “the future of Florida citrus depends on a breakthrough in the fight against greening.”

Shannon Shepp is the executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, and his view is somewhat more optimistic than that of Putnam. He observed that growers are forging ahead with fresh plantings, which, along with new agricultural techniques, will allow them “to maintain the viability of their groves.” Shepp predicts that the Florida citrus industry will prevail over citrus greening.

Nevertheless, until a reliable cure is found for greening, Richard Lyons Nursery will not sell citrus trees and will continue to advise consumers looking to purchase fruit trees to avoid citrus.

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