Sunday, June 17, 2018
News Roundup

Trigaux: Out of juice? Florida's orange output dropping to lowest since 1964

Is Florida orange juice, an image so integral to the state that the orange adorns the state license plate, soon to be on the endangered species list?

The latest numbers continue to reveal a citrus industry in an accelerating tailspin. Florida's orange crop will shrink to the lowest in 52 years, says the latest forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as damage from citrus-greening disease persists.

In the season ending Sept. 30, Florida will collect 80 million boxes, the lowest since 1964, the USDA says. Last season, output was 96.8 million boxes, the lowest since 1966. The new forecast is a startling 17 percent drop in one year, raising questions of when — or if — Florida's citrus business will be able to stabilize.

The industry peaked at 244 million boxes 18 years ago, raising concerns that Florida's claim as the nation's citrus capital and the state's biggest crop may be fading.

"This initial citrus crop estimate confirms that Florida's citrus industry is in a fight for its life," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said in a statement. "The health of Florida citrus is important to every Floridian, not just those who depend on it for their livelihoods."

He is seeking another $8.5 million in state money next year to raise the funding to fight citrus greening disease to $18.5 million. Putnam, whose Polk County family has deep roots in oranges, estimates the citrus industry's economic impact in the state exceeds $10.7 billion and supports more than 64,000 jobs.

The problem is that those dollar and job figures are inevitably shrinking along with the industry Putnam is eager to preserve. Orange juice faces attacks on a number of fronts, not just from greening disease but also from the rise of competing breakfast drinks, its consumer price, the loss of grove acreage to urban sprawl and past hurricane damages, as well as from dietary critics who say the juice contains large amounts of sugar.

Planted acreage in Florida, the top U.S. grower, has dropped to the lowest since at least 1966 as greening raises costs for farmers and discourages expansion.

Tom Spreen, emeritus professor of agricultural economics at the University of Florida, was surprised by the forecast, telling the Ledger in Lakeland that he "had no idea the orange number would be this low." He added the low prediction only intensifies the need to find a solution for citrus greening, which causes fruit to shrivel and drop from the trees.

Spread by the Asian citrus psyllids bug first discovered in Florida a decade ago, citrus greening has triggered the loss of at least 100,000 acres and $3.6 billion in state revenues since 2007.

It's too early to tell if new pesticides or new kinds of citrus trees being cultivated will help curtail the blight.

At the start of the 2015 legislative session, Putnam had asked for $8 million for the citrus industry but received $4 million. Gov. Rick Scott also vetoed another $1.25 million that was budgeted for the Department of Citrus to continue consumer awareness programs, conduct in-state citrus breeding and — no doubt a blow to the record numbers of tourists flocking to the state — provide free orange juice to travelers at state welcome centers on Interstates 10, 75 and 95 and U.S. 231.

Comments
Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

NEW YORK — Kevin Cash was not going to go all Lou Piniella on his Rays, raging and ripping and roaring over their latest mess, a 4-1 Saturday loss to the Yankees that didn't feel that close.Which is too bad because Piniella, the volcanic former...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Sun., June 17, midday:xx xxx xxxxe_SRitxxxxxSun., June 17, evening:xx xxx xxxxe_SRitxxxxxFantasy 5Sunday...
Updated: 12 hours ago
They fled Puerto Rico with their possessions, which they lost last week in an apartment fire

They fled Puerto Rico with their possessions, which they lost last week in an apartment fire

RIVERVIEW — It was the most routine of errands, shopping for a cooler and some shorts.Joel Jaca and Arelys Gomez, both 40, had turned an important corner, miles away from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.They had finally gotten out of their relief hotel...
Published: 06/16/18
Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

The Rays are still talking, as they should, about playing for something this season. The reality is that almost every move they've made, going back to the end of last season, and in some cases further, has been about 2019 and beyond.Clearing out vete...
Published: 06/16/18

Published: 06/16/18
Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

ST. PETERSBURG — Mazzaro’s Italian Market will be closed throughout the weekend after a warehouse fire broke out Friday.A St. Petersburg Police officer noticed smoke coming from the market at 22nd Ave. N around midnight Friday, said St. Petersburg F...
Published: 06/16/18
Catholic diocese celebrates 50 years in Tampa Bay and forges plan for the future

Catholic diocese celebrates 50 years in Tampa Bay and forges plan for the future

ST. PETERSBURG — At his installation as spiritual leader of Tampa Bay’s Catholics, Bishop Gregory Parkes promised to take time to get to know his people, listen to what they had to say and work to discern a plan for the future.On Sunday, 17 months la...
Published: 06/16/18
A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

TAMPA — Loueita Hargens had known for years how her son Bradley Dykes would die. She had seen him cycle through drugs of choice, had lost track of the number of times he’d wound up in the hospital or prison.A recovering alcoholic herself, she cut him...
Published: 06/16/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18
A woman went to check her corn - and was swallowed by a python

A woman went to check her corn - and was swallowed by a python

For the second time in barely more than a year, an Indonesian villager has been swallowed whole by a python.Wa Tiba, 54, left her home on Muna island to visit her cornfield on Thursday night, according to the Jakarta Post.The field was about a half m...
Published: 06/16/18