The damaging winds and expected flooding of Hurricane Ian are threatening most of Florida’s huge citrus industry.
According to satellite imagery provider Maxar Technologies, at least 75% of the citrus belt in Florida is threatened by heavy rains over the next 36 hours.
Maxar’s WeatherDesk found that at least a third of the groves are likely to suffer some wind damage, mainly in the northwest part of the citrus belt.
How the market is reacting: Florida is a leading producer of citrus, including oranges and grapefruits. Orange juice futures rose 4% Wednesday afternoon as investors bet supply would be impacted by Hurricane Ian. Prices are up nearly 30% so far this year.
The timing of the storm was difficult for farmers in Florida as citrus crops were approaching harvest season.
“There will be quite a bit of fruit drop and fruit drop on the tree,” says Maxar.
Citrus production was under significant pressure even before Hurricane Ian.
In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated U.S. orange production to decline 13% in 2021 AND 2022 to the lowest level in 55 years because of drought in California and citrus greening in Florida.