Citrus disease costs state economy billions, new Univerity of Florida study shows
Jan 24, 2012
The following article was published in The Florida Current on January 24, 2012:
Citrus disease costs state economy billions, new UF study shows
The “citrus greening” bacterial pest that causes trees to drop fruit prematurely and eventually kills the trees has cost Florida’s economy an estimated $3.63 billion and 6,611 since 2006 by cutting orange juice production, according to a new University of Florida study.
Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, says the study is the first to examine the problem’s cost and takes an important step in the fight by alerting state leaders to citrus greening’s financial toll.
The disease, caused by a bacteria spread by an invasive insect — the Asian citrus psyllid, was first detected in Florida in 2005. The study compared juice orange harvests from 2006-2007 through 2010-2011, a period when the disease caused substantial crop losses, UF citrus economist Tom Spreen said. The state’s juice-orange harvest for the period was 734 million boxes, and would have been an estimated 951 million boxes without greening, he said.
The study, funded by Florida Citrus Mutual, did not address production of other citrus varieties, such as grapefruit, or oranges sold fresh to consumers, Spreen said.
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