As Richard Lyons’ Nursery has noted several times over the past few years, the citrus industry in the State of Florida has been taking a significant tumble. First came citrus canker, followed by citrus greening disease and several hurricanes and tropical storms. Most recently, far-reaching Hurricane Irma unleashed severe damage throughout the citrus-growing region of the state.
Unfortunately, the latest projections for Florida’s orange crop revised the yield downward. The production for the 2017-18 season is now estimated at 45 million 90-lb. boxes, a one million-box drop from the January projection. That means that the harvest will come in 34.5% lower than last year’s. Florida’s orange yield has not been so small since the second World War. The grapefruit crop is faring somewhat better. For the third straight month, the projected yield has remained static at 4.65 million boxes. Still, that figure represents a drop of almost 40% from last season.
The damage wrought by Hurricane Irma is staggering, estimated by the state’s agriculture department at nearly $761 million! The federal budget legislation just passed provides for $2.3 billion in aid to Florida’s agriculture industry. While that is certainly welcome news, the fact remains that there is still no remedy for citrus greening. Until affordable preventive treatments are developed, Richard Lyons’ Nursery will not offer citrus for sale, and will continue to advise consumers not to buy citrus trees for their home gardens.