ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida is on pace to produce the smallest crop of oranges in more than 75 years, which is expected to lead to price hikes on juice at the grocery store.
A forecast released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the Sunshine State is on pace to produce 44.5 million 90-pound boxes of oranges during the current season.
That’s a 1.5 million box reduction from the previous forecast in December.
If the current forecast holds true through the rest of the citrus growing season, it will be the smallest orange crop since the 1944-1945 season when the state produced 42.3 million boxes of oranges.
According to a Bloomberg report, citrus greening disease has been largely blamed for the issue, which continues to plague groves in the state. The disease often kills plants or causes fruit to shrink and fall prematurely from trees.
Florida’s oranges are traditionally used for making juice, while California’s crop is primarily used for the fresh fruit market.
The citrus growing season in Florida lasts from fall into late spring.