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Citrus Growers get better prices due to January Freeze in Florida

Source: The Ledger 08/18/2010

Normally considered the bane of Florida citrus growers, this January's freeze may have rescued the 2009-10 season.


Essentially, industry officials say, Florida growers hit the jackpot when buyers, relying on historical data, bid up citrus farm prices in anticipation of fruit shortages that never came.


Freezes usually devastate the existing citrus crop and damage trees, reducing future fruit production for a year or more. But that history didn't repeat itself after a month of freezing weather that struck Florida in January.



"It was definitely a profitable season. Growers did well," said Larry Black, production manager at Peace River Packing Co. in Fort Meade, which has 1,400 grove acres in Polk County.


Bob Norberg, an economist and deputy executive director at the Florida Department of Citrus, said orange buyers acted on their knowledge of the historical impact of freezes.


"That was true in particular for speculative interests in the (futures) market," Norberg said. "They aren't in Florida. They react only to what they see in the media."

The other big factor that pushed up 2009-10 Florida citrus farm prices was a continual decline in the Brazilian orange crop. Sao Paulo, Brazil's principal juice orange region, produced just 296 million boxes of oranges in its 2009-10 season, which runs from June to February. That was down 10 percent from its previous season and off from about 400 million boxes harvested a decade ago.


"You can't separate the U.S. from the rest of the world," said Bob Behr, an economist and vice president at Florida's Natural Growers in Lake Wales, the third largest U.S. juice retailer. "There's certainly more concern about long-term global (OJ) supplies."


This was a summary. You can read the full text in The Ledger Website: