The USDA predicted Jan. 12 Florida will produce 71 million boxes of oranges for the 2016-2017 season, which is down more than 12 percent from the 81.5 million boxes harvested last season.
If the forecast holds true, it represents a decline of more than 70 percent since the peak of citrus production at 244 million boxes during the 1997-98 season. The drastic reduction in citrus production in Florida is largely due to the citrus greening disease, which continues to plague citrus trees and the citrus industry with no long-term solution in sight.
“The future of Florida citrus, and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports, depends on a long-term solution in the fight against greening. Our brightest minds are working to find a solution, but until then, we must support our growers and provide them every tool available to combat this devastating disease,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam in a statement Jan. 12.
In support of Florida's growers and industry groups seeking approval from the Environmental Protection Agency for the use of certain antimicrobial treatments to combat greening, Putnam issued a crisis declaration in 2016 regarding their Section 18 application to the EPA, which allowed the immediate use of these treatments.