Orange Groves near Arcadia FL – click on image for larger picture
Florida’s subtropical climate is suitable for growing many crops including oranges, grapefruit, tangelos, sugar cane, tomatoes, peppers, cotton, watermelons, peanuts, and other crops. Florida produces about 67 % of the oranges consumed in the U.S. and about 40 % worldwide. Florida is the second largest producer of oranges worldwide after Brazil. The value of Florida orange and orange juice sold each year totals about $1.5 Billion dollars.
Florida’s’ orange production has been hurt in recent years by a disease caused by an insect called the Asian Citrus Psyllid. The disease that is devastating the orange crops in Florida is also known as “citrus greening” which causes the fruit to turn green and fall off the trees before they mature. Other diseases like Canker have affected Florida’s orange crops as well.
Money, science and lots of research has been done by the citrus industry, University of Florida and now the federal government to help find a solution to these citrus crop diseases. In 2008 there were 568,000 acres of orange trees growing in Florida but that number has been decreasing. Some farmers are giving up, using their land for other purposes or abandoning their land altogether.
One bright spot for the orange industry in Florida is the Coca Cola Company which is investing millions of dollars in the state by agreeing to purchase oranges from growers and to provide money for the replanting of new trees in central Florida. Coca Cola has a vested interest in Orange Juice because it owns Minute Maid, one of the largest brands of Orange Juice in the U.S. Coca Cola owns 26 citrus production facilities in the state and employs over 4,000 employees. It purchases about 1/3 of all oranges grown by farmers in Florida.
The Coca Cola Company says that it supports the “sustainable and responsible” use of land in Florida by working towards using less fertilizers, pesticides and consuming less water for irrigation. There is a lot of information about Florida’s Orange industry on the internet. I gathered some of the information for this article from www.agfax.com and the Univ. of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science. The New York Times also wrote an article on May, 8th 2013, titled “Citrus Diseases With No Cure is Ravaging Florida’s Groves.”
Some additional information about Florida’s Agricultural and Orange Industry can be found at the following websites.