Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Bad Harvest

The orange crop in Florida was really bad:

Some growers have just given up and abandoned their groves without pulling up the trees, which can worsen citrus greening, since the psyllid will feast on trees that don’t have pesticide, and then fly to nearby groves and infect those trees. There were 126,000 acres of abandoned groves in Florida in 2014, and 7,300 acres of forested areas that have abandoned citrus in their canopies, according to the USDA.
There are some measures that arrest or slow the spread of the disease, but they’re costly. Growers are now treating their trees eight times a year or more to reduce the number of psyllids on them, they’re also adding fertilizer and other nutrients to the trees' roots to help them fight the disease. A citrus grower now spends $2,250 an acre to grow trees—prior to greening, he would spend $850 an acre, according to Florida Citrus Mutual, an industry association.
“The smaller growers seem to be really thinking about the economics, a lot of them are deciding to throw in the towel and are selling their groves,” said Dean Saunders, a real-estate broker who served in the state House of Representatives and comes from an agricultural family.
As many growers give up, the infrastructure to support citrus is shrinking, too. United Indian River Packers, Inc., one of Florida’s oldest packinghouses, announced last year they were auctioning off their properties in order to focus on other businesses. A Naples store where customers could buy fresh produce before it was shipped elsewhere closed in May, the land sold to a builder.
“You kind of scratch your head and wonder—is there even going to be an industry?” Saunders said. “I don’t believe that but I understand why people would ask the question.”
That's just ugly.  I was surprised when reading a story about a Brazilian orange juice baron when I saw this statement:
 Brazil was more prepared than Florida for greening, an insect-borne bacterial disease discovered in the state’s orange groves in 2005, because it had put systems in place after outbreaks of a bacteria known as canker, said Juliano Ayres, director of Cutrale-funded Fundecitrus in Araraquara, which releases alerts as diseases spread.
I don't know.  That sounds a little sketchy to me.  But I would recommend reading the whole article at Bloomberg, because it is interesting.

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