Hurricane Michael Sours Start of Florida Orange Harvest
11 October 2018

Hurricane Michael made landfall yesterday and is expected to tack on yet another blow to agriculture in the southeastern United States. The storm skirted major orange production areas in south Florida, but has nonetheless dampened Florida’s hopes for a significant orange crop rebound in 2019. Although the USDA released an upbeat 2019 orange production forecast today, those figures were generated on Oct. 1 and don’t include possible damages incurred by Hurricane Michael. Over the past few weeks, orange juice futures have taken a dive. The USDA forecast was optimistic for Florida, with production expected to reach 79 million boxes of oranges in 2019, up 76 percent from a record low in 2018. The latest weather-related blow to Florida growers comes as many are still waiting on financial assistance from the US government for the damage caused by Hurricane Irma last year.

Weather isn’t the only headwind hitting US oranges. In retaliation for US trade tariffs in early July, Canada and the European Union placed tariffs on US orange juice of 20 and 25 percent, respectively. To make matters worse, world orange juice consumption is falling and the decline in orange production in Florida has prompted beverage companies to turn to cheaper sources of orange juice in Brazil. Over the past few decades, Brazil has gradually maneuvered itself into the dominant orange and orange-juice producer position and is expected to continue to dictate the orange juice market. Gro Intelligence subscribers can take advantage of our platform’s extensive data to stay ahead of changes in the global citrus industry.

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As Florida's orange production (blue line) continues to decline, Brazil has taken up the slack to become the dominant orange juice producer over the United States (green bar for Brazilian orange juice and red bar for United States).

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