Florida Orange Crop Will Be Smallest Since 1943 on Ian Impact

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Florida Orange Crop Will Be Smallest Since 1943 on Ian Impact

(Bloomberg) -- Florida is set to have the smallest orange crop in almost eight decades after Hurricane Ian devastated citrus groves in the nation’s top fruit juice supplier.

The state will produce 28 million boxes for the current season, down from 41.05 million boxes a year earlier, the US Department of Agriculture said Wednesday in a report. That’s the lowest harvest since 1943. The drop marks the fourth straight annual decline for Florida’s key agricultural crop.

Orange juice futures rose as much as 0.8% to $1.92 a pound on ICE (NYSE: ICE ) Futures US. The price is up about 50% in the last 12 months. Tight supplies in Brazil, the top orange grower, has contributed to the rally as well as higher industry costs.

The estimate marks the fourth straight decline for a key crop in Florida, which has been eclipsed by California in the past year as the nation’s biggest orange grower. The slump has been hastened by Ian, which carved a destructive path through orange groves in the latest blow to Florida’s $6.7 billion citrus industry. The storm’s devastation and crop woes in drought-struck California add uncertainty to the US production outlook and threatens to lift imports and prices as consumers struggle with the worst inflation in four decades.

The USDA will probably cut Florida’s orange crop further in the coming months when the severity of Hurricane Ian’s impact becomes evident, likely in the form of more fruit drop amid weakened trees, said industry consultant Judy Ganes.

‘Swampy’ Stench Permeates Florida Groves Hammered by Hurricane

The state’s crop has been in a downward trend for almost two decades, largely due to the devastating citrus greening disease that has decimated groves as well as urban sprawl and hurricane damage.

Climate change has been wreaking havoc on the world’s citrus crops, with severe drought in top grower Brazil and California helping crimp global supplies. Plunging US production is widely expected to boost imports from other nations including Mexico, which were already on the rise prior to Ian. A box weighs 90 pounds or 41 kilograms.

(Updates with orange juice futures price in third paragraph)

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© Bloomberg. Fallen oranges and damaged trees following Hurricane Ian at a grove in Charlotte county, Florida.

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