WASHINGTON D.C.: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said that this year's orange crop will produce a smaller yield for the second consecutive year, with orange production across Florida down 3 percent this winter, one of the lowest levels of production in more than 75 years.
Accounting for more than 70 percent of total U.S. production and more than 90 percent of the nation's orange juice, Florida is expected to produce 44.5 million 90-pound boxes of oranges during the current season, 1.5 million boxes less than the most recent prediction in December.
Since the start of the year, the price of orange juice has increased 5.26 percent, or $7.70 per pound.
Florida last produced so few boxes during the 1944-45 growing season, when it recorded a yield of 42.3 million boxes of oranges.
According to the Florida Department of Citrus, this year's low yield was caused by an outbreak of citrus greening, an incurable plant disease spread by insects, which has wreaked havoc on Florida groves since it was first detected in 2005, reported the Wall Street Journal.
After recent years when Americans have chosen drinks that contain less sugar, COVID-19 lockdowns have fueled demand for orange juice.
Before the lockdowns in February 2020, orange juice futures were trading at 10-year lows, but by the middle of the next month sales surged by 10 percent.
However, a surplus of orange crops in foreign markets, such as Brazil and Mexico, will help offset domestic shortages, predicts the USDA.
Due to rising levels of inflation not seen in four decades, Americans are already paying more for goods and services, with consumer prices increasing by 7 percent for the year ending in December, according to federal statistics.