Orange Juice Could Be More Expensive After Florida Has Smallest Orange Crop Since WWII

One of the many contributing factors to a smaller crop is a bacterial infection.

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The forecast for Florida oranges from the US Department of Agriculture this year is a bit bleak. The estimated production for the 2021-2022 season predicts that the yield of oranges will decrease by 16% compared to last season. The report indicated that Florida growers are only expected to produce 44.5 million boxes of oranges, which will be the lowest output from Florida since World War II.

This year’s crop is tiny for a few reasons, but one of the biggest is a bacterial infection called citrus greening, which causes the fruit to be smaller and more bitter. The Washington Post reports that the citrus greening is spread by an insect called Asian citrus psyllid, which is a lice-like bug that spreads the incurable disease.

“Greening is the most difficult disease to ever impact citrus,” Mike Sparks, the executive director of Florida Citrus Mutual, told The Washington Post. “We’re going to see prices increase.”

It won’t be the first price rise for the fruit in recent years, either. In 2021, the USDA reported that the cost of orange juice rose by 13.8%. Additional challenges for Florida growers include extreme weather events like Hurricane Irma in 2017. Fewer orange trees have been planted in the state as well, with many growers leaving the business.

All of these factors result in a smaller orange crop and have taken Florida’s title as the top producer of the citrus. California is now leading the nation.

I guess this helps explain the decision to name strawberry shortcake as the official state dessert. 

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.