Florida’s citrus industry is in a sharp decline, and it’s causing both economic and cultural angst in the Sunshine State. Orange production has dropped 63% in the last ten years, as citrus trees have fallen victim to a fatal citrus greening disease (Huanglongbing – HLB) spread by a tiny pest, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). It’s not just growers who are affected; citrus production creates jobs across a broad economic spectrum.
Reporter Alana Semuels speaks to Thomas Spreen, a professor emeritus at the University of Florida’s Food and Resource Economics Department. He says this:
“It’s hard to imagine Florida without citrus—it would be akin to Vermont without maple syrup, Iowa without corn, or Georgia without peaches, Spreen said.
“Citrus is very much a part of the fabric of Florida,” he said. “It would be kind of like if Texas didn’t have any cows anymore—Texas wouldn’t blow up economically, but it would take something out of the culture of Texas.”
You can read the full article at The Atlantic.
NOTE: California’s citrus industry and backyard citrus growers are also dealing with ACP. You can learn more from this University of California ANR website hosted by UC entomologist Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell. She’s helping California producers to respond to this threat. Quarantines have been set in counties ranging from Imperial to Ventura, and also include parts of Kern, Tulare, Madera, San Joaquin and other counties. Learn more about California’s response by visiting the California Department of Food and Agriculture website here. If you are a California homeowner with citrus trees, you may want to view this video featuring Grafton-Cardwell, who shows how to identify the ACP.