The Big Chill: California Citrus Crop Damage
The unseasonable cold in California has been in the news a lot this week. Apparently it has damaged up to 75% of California’s citrus crop, with over $1 billion in losses expected.
It’s not just oranges and other citrus that have been damaged, however – other produce grown in the vast fields of California has also been lost. This includes everything from avocados to strawberries to fresh flowers, although the most immediate effect for consumers will probably be seen in the price of oranges. Retailers expect prices to triple this winter, if the damage is as bad as they fear.
What are the implications of this, and why can’t Florida just make up the difference? Well, Florida’s humidity and climate tend to foster very juicy oranges that have been bred for juice production. Florida growers produce less oranges for eating, although they may try to fill in some of the shortage.
There are more severe implications for workers – many migrant workers will be out of a job this winter in California. It also affects those of us who try to buy produce grown locally, or at least in this country. Many large retailers say that they are working to source their citrus from other parts of the world, and we may see oranges and lemons in stores this winter from places as far away as South Africa.