Florida growers are facing a severe outbreak of the root disease canker in citrus groves.
Last year Florida lost 69% of its grapefruit and a third of its oranges to hurricane damage.
This year, experts warned that similar weather could cause yet more damage. Despite the early impact of Hurricane Katrina, Florida’s groves escaped relatively unscathed.
However, subsequently more than five million trees have been destroyed by the canker, which many believe was carried in by the winds.
The Florida citrus season is just getting under way, and growers and traders are waiting to see what effect the canker will have on the estimated 20 million-carton grapefruit crop.
More than 3.5 million cartons of fruit are planned for export to European markets.
However, another spectre haunting the citrus-growing community is the outside chance that European Union officials could halt fruit imports from Florida in a bid to protect the EU’s own citrus groves.