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Florida’s Once-Signature Crop Is Shrinking Away Amid Disease

  • Orange-juice futures surged 30% in past year on supply woes
  • ‘Abnormally dry conditions’ could exacerbate disease damage
Oranges are picked at an orange grove in Winter Garden, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010. Orange-juice futures jumped by the most allowed by ICE Futures U.S. for a second straight day on concern that freezing weather may damage citrus groves in Florida, the worldÕs largest producer of the fruit after Brazil.
Photographer: Matt Stroshane/Bloomberg
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Things keep getting worse for citrus growers in Florida, where crop disease and slowing demand continue to threaten what used to be a signature industry in the sunshine state.

The state’s orange crop is poised to shrink to what could be the smallest harvest in five decades, according to Judy Ganes-Chase, president of J. Ganes Consulting in Panama City, Panama. There are signs that processors are handling less fruit than projected, underscoring why production could fall short of government estimates, she said.