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Florida Orange Trees Threatened on Tropical Storm Flooding

Florida’s orange crop, the world’s second largest, may face damage as Tropical Storm Debby drenches groves and causes flooding in some areas, said Jim Dale, a senior risk meteorologist for British Weather Services.

Some areas of Florida may receive 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain by June 28, Dale said today by telephone from High Wycombe, England. Much of the central part of the state and the Panhandle are under a tornado watch, while coastal areas have flood warnings, National Weather Service data show.

“Looking forward at the next three or four days, this is a major event,” Dale said. “There will be some considerable amounts of rainfall and localized flooding, and damage to the orange crop probably will occur.”

Florida’s orange harvest starts in October and runs through July. Production in the 2011-12 crop year will total 146.2 million boxes, up from 140.5 million boxes a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said June 12. A box weighs 90 pounds. Brazil is the world’s biggest orange grower.

Orange juice futures have dropped 40 percent in the past year. The contract for September delivery jumped 6 percent last week to $1.157 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. Today, the price fell 0.3 percent to $1.1530 as of 8:21 a.m. local time, after earlier rising as much as 1 percent.

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