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US orange production hit by disease, juice prices soar

A citrus disease spread by a tiny insect has devastated Florida's orange crop, which is expected to be the worst in nearly 30 years, and sent juice prices soaring on New York markets. The culprit? The gnat-sized Asian citrus psyllid, which is infecting citrus trees across the Sunshine State with huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease, which causes fruit to taste bitter and fall from trees too soon.

USDA statistics say Florida's orange crop is on the decline, may be worst year in decades

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - This year's Florida orange crop is approaching the fruit's lowest harvest in 24 years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday released its citrus production forecast. The 2013-2014 orange forecast is 110.0 million boxes, down 4 per cent from last month, and 18 per cent less than last season's final production figure. Orange harvesting ends in June, and if the crop doesn't decline further, it will barely exceed the 110.2 million orange boxes harvested in 1989-90 following the worst freeze in Florida citrus history.

USDA statistics say Florida's orange crop is on the decline, may be worst year in decades

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - This year's Florida orange crop is approaching the fruit's lowest harvest in decades, and experts say a deadly bacteria that's infecting the trees is to blame. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday released its citrus production forecast and the news isn't good. The 2013-2014 orange forecast is 110 million boxes, down 4 per cent from last month, and 18 per cent less than last season's final production figure.

Spring arrives in Japan with first cherry blossoms

Spring officially arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday when Japan's weather agency announced the start of the cherry blossom season. Forecasters watching trees at the capital's central Yasukuni Shrine said the city's first blossoms had appeared there, marking the beginning of two weeks in which Tokyo's parks, temple grounds, schools and streets will explode in pinks and whites. "Cherry blossom is a good gauge to let us know that spring is here," a Japan Meteorological Agency official said, adding that this year's first blossoms had appeared at the usual time.

Weeklong December freeze wiped out quarter of California's citrus crop: report

EXETER, Calif. - A week of freezing temperatures in early December wiped out about a quarter of California's $2 billion citrus industry, an industry group estimated on Monday. The group, California Citrus Mutual, said the damage was confined to the state's Central Valley, where about $441 million in mandarin and navel oranges and lemons were lost during seven consecutive nights of freezing temperatures in early December.

Citrus industry group: weeklong December freeze cost California's $2B citrus crop $441M

EXETER, Calif. - A week of freezing temperatures in early December cost California's $2 billion citrus industry about $441 million, an industry group estimated on Monday. The group, California Citrus Mutual, said the damage was confined to the state's Central Valley, where mandarin, navel and lemon crops were lost during seven consecutive nights of freezing temperatures in early December.

AP NewsBreak: Federal agriculture officials to join Florida's battle against citrus disease

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The federal government is getting involved in the fight against citrus greening disease, in hopes of saving Florida's — and possibly the entire nation's — citrus crop. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will announce Thursday that it's creating an "emergency response framework" to battle citrus greening. It will gather various groups, agencies and experts to co-ordinate and focus federal research on fighting the disease.

California citrus growers toil a 2nd night to fight freezing temperatures, expect some damage

SANTA ANA, Calif. - After the orange harvesting ends for the day and the sun sets, the toughest part of John S. Gless' day is just beginning: a desperate fight to stave off a cold spell threatening to destroy his citrus crop. The vice-president and manager of Gless Ranch, which grows oranges, lemons and grapefruit on 5,000 acres 100 miles north of Los Angeles, spends his nights shuttling from field to field where costly wind machines are warming up the groves by a few critical degrees that can make all the difference once temperatures dip dangerously low.

Florida counts on experimental trees to fight orange plague

By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Florida citrus researchers are preparing to launch a large-scale test of new disease-tolerant orange tree rootstock in what one likened to a leap of faith to save the $9 billion state industry from a deadly citrus greening "tsunami." Florida, second to Brazil in global orange juice production, has lost billions of dollars in revenues from the disease that is killing orange trees faster than they can be replaced.

Vermont orchard program could have some pickers netting a different kind of Apple

MONTPELIER, Vt. - It kind of gives a whole new meaning to the phrase Apple picking. Sixteen Vermont pick-your-own orchards are participating in this year's version of a special contest, in which lucky pickers coming across a wooden apple will win an Apple iPod, iPod Shuffle or iPad. The promotion is being sponsored by Woodchuck Hard Cider, Small Dog Electronics, Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.
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