August 12, 2020
Where Have All the Florida Grapefruit Gone?

Photo:

Growing Produce News Release

Where Have All the Florida Grapefruit Gone?

Twenty years ago, the life of a Florida citrus grower was pretty sweet – at least compared to modern times. Back in the 1997-1998 season, Florida grapefruit producers harvested and packed a record 49.5 million boxes. Fast forward to today and that number now stands at a projected 3.88 million boxes for the 2017-2018 campaign, according to the latest USDA citrus crop estimate. The paltry number is not only light years away from the hefty haul of two decades ago, but also markedly down from last season’s output of 7.8 million boxes.

Years of disease pressure, most notably from canker early on and citrus greening for more than a decade now, has taken an enormous toll on overall yields. Multiple hurricane strikes in the Indian River citrus growing area in 2004, as well as a thorough thumping from Hurricane Irmalast year added salt in the wound. The bleeding, however, should stop at least for this season as harvest is complete for Florida grapefruit.

In addition, real estate trends on the Treasure Coast have led to more farmland transactions over the years. Prices provided during the recent Lay of the Land Conference in Orlando showed citrus groves that are no longer productive are selling in the $3,500 to $5,300 per acre range, while better producing groves are fetching $5,000 to $8,000 per acre.

So, what about oranges? The updated all-orange number stands unchanged from last month’s estimate at 44.95 million boxes. Last season, the final all-orange count finished up at 66.7 million boxes. Flashing back again to 20 years ago, the orange harvest topped 244 million boxes.

Well before Hurricane Irma did her dirty work, pre-season crop estimates were actually projected to be up year over year. The silver lining for now, the sign-up period is fast approaching for eligible citrus growers to receive hurricane recovery aid made available by the government.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam stayed positive in a statement his office released shortly after the USDA forecast was reported: “While today’s final citrus crop forecast brings this horrible season to a close, it’s important to remember that the industry is still recovering from Hurricane Irma’s unprecedented damage last year. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the USDA, Florida’s agriculture industry, and our elected leaders, much-needed disaster assistance is on the way to help Florida’s growers.”

The final USDA 2017-2018 citrus crop report is scheduled for release on July 12.

This story is from Growing Produce.

 

Tags: Agriculture

Digital Access

DIRECT DIGITAL ACCESS
Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single digital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.

ACCESS THIS ISSUE »

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Miami frontline nurses surprised with new apartment after their home burned down
Miami frontline nurses surprised with new apartment after their home burned down

The teenage founder of Helping Others and Giving Hope, a Miami-based community nonprofit, and a South Florida real estate agency donated an apartment in Coral Reef to COVID-19 frontline nurses whose home burned down.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Have your summer 2020 travel plans been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

  • Yes, I canceled my travel plans and will not reschedule
  • Yes, I have rescheduled my travel plans for late 2020
  • Yes, I have rescheduled my travel plans for 2021
  • No, my 2020 travel plans remain unchanged
  • No plans to travel
  • Other (Please share your comments in the comment section below)

See Results

Florida Trend Media Company
490 1st Ave S
St Petersburg, FL 33701
727.821.5800

© Copyright 2020 Trend Magazines Inc. All rights reserved.