Disease, Irma Has Left Florida Citrus Industry Reeling - NBC Chicago
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Disease, Irma Has Left Florida Citrus Industry Reeling

Citrus accounts for approximately 45,000 full- and part-time jobs in the state

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    In this May 13, 2013, file photo, tangerines are seen in a bin in Fort Pierce, Florida.

    In the hours after Hurricane Irma raked up Florida's spine, warm sunshine revealed thousands upon thousands of pieces of citrus fruit bobbing in muddied, stagnant water.

    Millions of dollars worth of oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines were ripped from their branches by fierce winds, never to reach their intended destination of breakfast plates and juice glasses, NBC News reported.

    Irma knocked 50 to 90 percent of Florida’s citrus fruit to the ground in places, according to the state commissioner of agriculture, Adam Putnam, causing $760 million in damage in the worst year for Florida oranges since 1945.

    Meanwhile, citrus greening, also known as yellow dragon disease, is spread by a kind of louse called the Asian citrus psyllid, the size of a grain of rice. Psyllids are whipped across the state by wind, making them effective carriers for disease during hurricanes. Citrus greening is harmless to humans and animals, but the disease causes fruit to be misshapen and overly bitter. Most citrus trees in Florida are believed to be infected with it.

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    (Published Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019)