- Federal officials have cut their forecasts for the Florida citrus crop as the damage from the disease known as citrus greening spreads at an extraordinary pace.
- The USDA now expects the orange crop to come in at around 121 million boxes, down 3 percent from the forecast in October. That earlier forecast was already 6 percent lower than last year's crop. The grapefruit crop is now expected to reach only 16.7 million boxes -- a decline of 1.1 million from November estimates.
- The root of the problem is the insect known as the Asian citrus psyllid, which spreads citrus greening. Some growers have lost as much as 40 percent of their groves to the disease.
We have a bit of an obsession with this issue. Amid all the talk about organics and genetically modified food and the rest, it's easy for consumers (and food executives) to lose track of citrus greening. Citrus greening isn't a health threat, it's an existential threat. In some year in the not-too-distant future, we may enter a world where there is no citrus ... or at least no affordable citrus. Industry and the government are working furiously to save the fruits. But so far nothing seems to work. And the disease just keeps spreading across the world and the nation.