SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Agriculture is the second leading industry in our state behind tourism, and Florida produces more than 70% of the United State’s supply of oranges.
However, within the last few years, many thought the fruit would soon disappear after seeing an intense decline in production. But one of our local citrus farms and shows us that there still is hope for the Sunshine State.
“Citrus is still here. It’s still thriving, and things are looking up,” Trevor Brown, from Brown’s Grove in Sarasota, tells us.
The last few seasons have been sour for the citrus industry in Florida. Hurricanes, imported juices and diseases have wreaked havoc on production. There are now only a handful of citrus farms left in the state.
“We’ve definitely taken an impact the last five years, but as far as supply and demand, there still is a huge demand. Our hopes are to supply for that demand, and it’s looking up,” Brown explained.
They’re still facing these problems of storms and diseases, but citrus farms, like Brown’s Grove, have found ways to battle them like having newer varieties of orange trees that can fight off the greening.
“We're seeing a tremendous increase in terms of productivity for the trees,” Brown said, “They're looking better and they're definitely healthier. We're getting a bigger crop of citrus.”
As farmers head into this season, they’re optimistic that they’ll have tons of oranges for the community, and Brown’s Grove is also planning on having U-Pick dates, so more people can enjoy our Suncoast supply.
“Support a local farmer instead of importing stuff from who knows where. That’s what caused these issues in the first place was outsourcing and bringing in produce from other countries. As long as we stay local, we can keep a healthy year of crop,” Brown explained.