Hurricane Irma further reduced already shrinking Florida citrus production
On September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma made U.S. landfall on Cudjoe Key, FL. Despite weakening as it moved up the Florida coast, Irma’s high winds and damaging rains affected a large swath of the State, including key citrus and winter vegetable production areas. The citrus crop–consisting of oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus–was particularly hard hit as the hurricane knocked down ripening fruit, uprooted trees, and flooded citrus groves. Further, fruit that remains on hurricane-weakened trees is at increased risk of dropping. Before the hurricane, early projections reflected an ongoing contraction driven by the spread of citrus greening disease, a bacterial disease that can ultimately kill orange trees. In October, the USDA forecasted post hurricane Florida citrus production at nearly 60 million boxes. In January 2018, a clearer picture of the hurricane’s effect on citrus production emerged, and Florida’s production was trimmed to under 52 million, 34 percent below 2016/17 marketing year levels. This chart appears in the February 2018 Amber Waves finding, "Hurricane Irma Hits Florida’s Agricultural Sector."