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Articles

Florida citrus damage unlikely to impact valley growers

Andra Belknap, Ojai Valley News reporter
Local citrus growers are keeping an eye on the Florida citrus industry, recently ravaged by both the Huanglongbing (HLB) virus and Hurricane Irma.
Irma's fierce winds knocked approximately 60 percent of growing citrus fruits off their trees in Florida's primary citrus region, according to the Florida Farm Bureau.
“What remains to be seen out of Florida is how many trees die because they’ve been submerged for weeks, which can literally drown them. Fruit knocked off the trees is a one-time thing, making this a very bad year for Florida,” said Ventura County Farm Bureau (VCFB) CEO John Krist. “Widespread loss of trees would be even more significant and might push the Florida industry — already teetering on the edge of extinction — right off the cliff.”
Krist does not believe Florida's struggles will have an immediate impact on California citrus, though.
“The vast majority of Florida citrus production is juice oranges. We don't really grow for that market here,” he said. “Also, the only way to increase citrus production is to plant more trees and then wait several years for them to bear commercial quantities of fruit, so responding to short-term supply reductions by boosting production isn’t really feasible.”
Ojai farmers continue working to keep local populations of the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) low in order to stave off the incurable citrus affliction HLB. ACP serves as a vector for the fatal disease.
See also:Psyllid spraying slated for Upper Ojai Ojai Valley News, July 6, 2017.

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