World of Citrus
World of Citrus      

Citrus Industry Facts And Statistics

Citrus trees produce many of the most popular and healthy fruits. From tasty oranges to tangy lemons and ruby red grapefruit, the products obtained from citrus groves contribute to daily life.

 

Citrus-based flavorings and aromas also play an important role in many popular commercial products. As this website grows and expands, we expect to add significantly to the information presented in this section.

 

The citrus industry holds economic importance in a number of states in the USA, including Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California.  An article on the website Live Science reported recently that some 75,000 people work in the citrus industry in Florida alone.

 

Citrus production contributes to the economies of many nations around the world, including the USA, Brazil, India, Australia, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Cyprus, Morocco, Israel, and others.

 

 

 

A Serious Problem: "Greening" Disease

Around the world today, growers of citrus trees in many locations face the death of their trees and substantial economic losses as a result of a bacterial disease popularly known as "greening disease."  This plant disease (which also affects olive trees) has significantly impacted Florida citrus crops recently. The United States Department of Agriculture is currently working to find ways to counter this grave threat.

 

Last year a Florida news station reported about efforts to save plants afflicted by greening disease using high temperatures.  The measure reportedly may offer a temporary way to prevent tree loss, if cost-effective methods can be developed to treat large numbers of plants in groves.

Huanglongbing

The federal government's agency that helps prevent infectious diseases in animals and plants, APHIS, indicated recently that Citrus Greening Disease is known as "Huanglongbing" ("HLB") or "yellow dragon disease" in China.  The agency reports that two species of plant lice called "psyllids" spread the bacteria which cause this disease in citrus trees.  To read about the details, visit the USDA's website at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/portal/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth. 

 

Additional information about the Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing appears on the website of the APS Journal, a scientific publication.  See http://apsjournal.apsnet.org .

 

Currently, Citrus Greening Disease aka Huanglongbing poses a threat in virtually every area on Earth where citrus growers produce orange crops. The disease causes oranges to remain small in size and develop a greenish color. Unfortunately, it also gradually destroys infected trees.  

 

The Uncle Matts website, which offers an organic citrus growing perspective, noted that the disease today proves costly to both citrus growers and consumers because prices have risen as orange production has declined in recent years.

An Excellent Collection of Citrus Plants

An online news article reported on September 9, 2015 about a collection of cultivars maintained by the University of California. In 1910, the educational institution began growing different varieties of citrus plants.  

 

The collection grew in size. It now provides an important resource for people studying citrus and horticultural subjects.

 

As botanists seek to protect endangered species of plants from extinction, horticultural collections help preserve plant biodiversity. Many lemon groves and orange groves once flourished in some areas of California that have undergone extensive development in recent decades.

 

The horticultural collection provided an important source of information for researchers seeking to develop new citrus orchards during much of the Twentieth Century.  Recently, the Swiss firm Givaudan reportedly gave a generous gift to endow an academic chair responsible for helping maintain the citrus collection. Givaudan works to develop flavorings and fragrances. Citrus fruits contribute importantly to foods and scents in many commercial products.

Challenges Facing The Citrus Industry

Today the citrus industry faces some significant challenges. Although many Americans have criticized agricultural subsidies for various crop producers, critics might want to give American citrus growers a bit of a break. Citrus is a battered industry today.  It may be in the midst of significant sector disruptions.

 

Citrus growers tackle a variety of problems that have caused many smaller, family-operated ventures to fail in recent years.  This would be a bad development for the U. S. economy and the Middle Class. Establishing a successful citrus orchard typically requires substantial capital investments. 

 

Although citrus grows well in limited zones in the United States, citrus trees remain highly specific in the range of temperatures they can tolerate.  This means that a "hard-freeze" can create havoc when unexpectedly cold temperatures strike growing areas. Just a few decades ago, a thriving Florida lemon growing industry suffered catastrophe as a result of weather issues.

 

Additionally, citrus presently enjoys such widespread commerce, that foreign plant diseases spreading from one part of the world to another create severe problems. HBL, or Citrus Greening Disease, provides just one example. In fact, today citrus producers must contend with a very long list of potential fungal, bacterial, viral and tree grafting-related disease threats.  Some insect infestations also pose hazards to orchards.

 

The labor strikes which temporarily closed Pacific ports recently caused hardships for some citrus producers. Media accounts described instances of oranges rotting on the docks because loading did not occur in time. Growers who could not afford to export their goods by air suffered a disadvantage. Most producers encountered higher shipping costs...Air cargo rates do not come cheaply. Due to the perishable nature of produce, fruit shippers require rapid refrigerated transporation and shipping to carry their products to distant market successfully.

 

Some citrus orchards in the USA need assistance to deal with a variety of recent challenges threatening their livelihoods, especially in the area of disease prevention.  Numerous small orchards and organic farms in particular have found their economic situation difficult.  It would be a shame if the United States loses its vital citrus sector.

 

 

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© Dorothy Ahlswede