Damage from Hurricane Ian compounded an already abysmal projection for the 2023 citrus harvest in Florida. Plus, the storm followed years of damage to the fruit trees thanks to a disease called citrus greening, formally known as Huanglongbing or HLB.
But the 2022-2023 harvest turned out even worse than experts anticipated, dropping to the lowest yields for the Sunshine State since 1936.
“Without greening, you could recover from a hurricane a lot faster,” said Steve Smith, president of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association. “Greening just makes it that much harder to recover from.”
Initial projections for this year’s citrus harvest—which includes oranges, grapefruit and specialty citrus such as tangerines and tangelos—took both the effects of citrus greening and the hurricane into effect when first issued in 2022. That estimate was for about 18 million boxes of oranges alone.
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