Florida’s fruit orchardists lament Irma destruction
Hurricane Irma struck close to orange harvesting season with officials estimating total losses to be over $760 million.
Farmers in Florida say Hurricane Irma has caused extensive damage to their vast citrus farms.
Florida, the world’s second-largest orange juice producer, was already in trouble even before Irma.
The farmers have been fighting a decade-long battle with “greening”, a devastating citrus plant disease that blocks nutrition in trees and has no cure.
“We were so close. And the trees had such a big crop on them; this is why they fell over so easily when the wind came from that direction and all the fruit that’s been stripped off to one side,” said Martin Mason, a farmer.
For two weeks now, agricultural expert Gene McAvoy has been documenting the damage.
“We lost, we estimate, up to 70-75 percent of the fruit blown off the trees is on the ground and it’s irrecoverable, so we have lost that directly. And then in terms of the long term, I see an additional 10 to 16 per cent loss this season,” he said.
According to an official document, the total losses, including crop losses, for citrus producers are estimated to be over $760 million.