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Citrus crop hit hard

The price of oranges at the grocery store may jump in coming weeks, experts say, after hurricane Irma left some of Florida's citrus producers wiped out.

"If you take a big chunk out of our supply, it means that prices are going to go up," said Michael von Massow, an associate professor at the University of Guelph.

Hurricane Irma led to dozens of deaths in the Caribbean and southeastern United States, and left more than one million homes and businesses without power in Florida.

"It is devastating. It has decimated our industry," said Adam Putnam, the state's commissioner of agriculture, at a Florida citrus commission meeting last week.

"The path of this storm could not have been any worse for Florida agriculture and Florida citrus, specifically."

In the state's southwest, about 70 to 100 per cent of orange crops were lost, he said.

Before the hurricane, the Florida Department of Citrus expected more than 75 million boxes worth of oranges on the trees this season, said executive director Shannon Shepp in a statement.

Now, she said, they have "much less."

Last year, Canada imported nearly nine-million kilograms of oranges worth more than $10 million from Florida, according to Statistics Canada. The country also brought in about $39 million worth of orange juice, according to Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.



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