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June 27, 2018

Ag Across America: What’s Happening With the Citrus and Timber Industries?

The Future of Citrus & Timber Industries

The Citrus Industry:

American citrus is still experiencing the harmful effects of Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening. The bacterial disease causes trees to yield green and oddly shaped fruit before eventually dying altogether. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the 2014-15 Florida orange crop will yield 96.4 million boxes of fruit, roughly 100 million less boxes than in 2013-2014. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam blames citrus greening.

To help combat the citrus crisis, the United States Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative is providing a group of researchers with a $10 million grant. The researchers will conduct a 5-year project, which will hopefully find a therapeutic treatment for citrus greening.

Meanwhile, in California, farmers in the citrus belt are struggling with the lengthening drought. As many as 20,000 acres of orange groves might be destroyed by the summer due to lack of water.

The Timber Industry:

The timber industry is still recovering from the recession and the burst housing bubble. They’re at about 1 million housing starts, which is half of what they saw in 2006 at the housing market peak but a great deal higher than what they saw in 2008. Overall, it’s a good figure.

The next five years are unsure—Millennials are waiting to marry and buy homes, if they do at all, which affects the outlook of the industry. The younger generation might start purchasing houses and moving into suburban neighborhoods, or they might shy away from big property purchases.

Like most agricultural industries, the timber industry is seeing an increase in technology, as well. They’re seeing less labor and more technologically driven mechanization and standardization. That makes skilled workers more important than ever before.

The timber industry is also seeing some increased competition from imported wood.

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