Monday, September 25, 2023

A disease threatens years of orange production in Brazil

The rapid spread of a citrus disease in Brazil has pushed orange juice prices to all-time highs as years of production from the world’s largest producer’s orchards are threatened.

With no proven cure on the market, entire orchards have died from the disease known as “citrus greening,” which leads to stunted fruit. The cause is a bacterium that is transmitted by aphids, i.e. jumping aphids.

According to the Fundecitrus research group, 38% of Brazil’s citrus acreage is infected and production of the affected orchards could drop by 60%.

Brazil’s citrus belt, which accounts for three-fifths of global supply, could lose nearly 25% of its production by the end of the decade if production could drop to about 235 million cases (9.59 billion kilos), according to Group of Estimates Citrus Consultants (Gconci) and the consulting firm Agriplanning.

His model predicts a 12% drop in production in five years, based on an estimated production of 309 million cases in the 2023/24 season in the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, the heart of Brazil’s orange belt. Bad weather could lead to an even bigger drop.

Diseases in Brazil and a poorer harvest in the United States have pushed prices for frozen orange juice and concentrate up about 60% this year, nearing a record above $3.30 a pound.

Controlling the aphids that transmit the bacteria has also become more difficult as they have become resistant to insecticides.

According to Renato Bassanezi, a Fundecitrus researcher, in the last harvest alone, premature fruit losses due to greening resulted in a lost production of around 21.9 million boxes.

CitrusBR, a group representing big producers like Citrosuco, Cutrale and the Louis Dreyfus Company, said last week that due to the weather and the impact of the disease, Brazil’s orange juice stocks hit a record low of 84,740 tons in late June.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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