Florida plant squeezed, no more juice processing

Posted at 12:53 PM, Sep 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 12:53:36-04

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — One of only a handful of orange juice-processing plants left in Florida will no longer process fruit in yet another sign of the havoc that diseases and Hurricane Irma have had on the fortunes of growers of the state's signature crop.

Southern Gardens Citrus on Tuesday said it has stopped processing fruit at its plant in southwest Florida.

Company officials say the plant was built a quarter century ago to process 20 million boxes of fruit. It only processed 6.5 million boxes of citrus last year.

Citrus diseases and Hurricane Irma in 2017 caused drops in the number of citrus Florida produces.

Florida Citrus Mutual, the industry's advocacy group, says Florida now has seven citrus processing plants left in the state, down from around 30 processors two decades ago.