LAKE WALES, Fla. (AP) — Losses from Hurricane Irma last year sent the value of the 2017-18 Florida citrus crop plummeting 41 percent.
The Lakeland Ledger reports that's a preliminary estimate of last season's crop value released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA set the total 2017-18 Florida citrus crop value at nearly $551.2 million, down from a revised estimate of $927 million for the state's 2016-17 citrus crop. A year ago, the agency estimated the 2016-17 crop at $780.7 million.
Florida citrus acreage has declined continuously since 2000, at first under pressure from real estate developers buying groves for commercial development. Since 2005, the pressure has come from the fatal bacterial disease citrus greening.
Florida citrus production has dropped more than 70 percent since greening's arrival.