According to a 2017 report A. W. Hodges “Economic Contributions of the Florida Citrus Industry in 2015 – 16,” Citrus Greening struck the state of Florida in 2004. Since then the economic decline of the Florida citrus industry has been devastating. From 2000 to 2016 acreage bearing fruit went from 750,000 to 435,000 acres – a 41% reduction. Moreover, the acreage that does bear fruit is producing much less. In 2004, growers were producing 428 90-pound boxes per acre and by 2016 that figure dropped to 210 boxes per acre. Within that same period of time, total citrus fruit utilization decreased 68% from 149.8 million boxes to 68.8 million.
Some leaders in the Florida citrus industry fear the final harvest for the current 2017/2018 season will fall below 40 million boxes of oranges. According to the most recent report from CitrusIndustry.net, “The The 2017–2018 Florida all-orange forecast released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is 45 million boxes, down 1 million boxes from the January forecast. If realized, this will be 35 percent less than last season’s production.”
During the 2012-2013 season, the Florida citrus industry produced 8.632 billion dollars of output and supported 45,422 jobs, and provided 271 million dollars to state and local taxes. However, from the 2012-2013 season to the 2015-2016 season, this industry continued down a drastic economic decline. Employment suffered a loss of 31.6%, industry output decreased by 31%, losing an average of over 1 billion dollars of output every year.
In response to the crisis, CRDF (Citrus Research and Development Foundation) has spearheaded research to find a solution. Since the inception of the CRDF, dozens of products, approaches, and systems have been tried. One treatment that was implemented by some growers and researchers was oxytetracycline, a strong antibiotic. This treatment however, did not yield any conclusive results. In addition to its lack of positive results and impractical application, many fear that using oxytetracycline on citrus groves will result in antibiotic resistance in the citrus trees as well as in the people who consume the product. Florida’s citrus industry remains without an established solution the the crisis.