As the seasonal harvest approaches, ‘ghost groves’ abandoned by growers are scattered across the state. ‘We’re in a race right now to save the Florida citrus industry,’ a researcher said.
A front loader carries a Valencia orange tree infected with bacteria from the Asian Citrus Psyllid insect to a burn pile at the Reynolds Farm in Lake Placid, Florida. (Mark Elias/Bloomberg News)
November 9, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. GMT-2
ODESSA, Fla. — Through a tiny office window behind William Kennedy Burchenal’s desk, a row of sickly orange trees could be seen standing in the bright Florida sun. Their limbs were withered and leaves deformed; the wood looked like rot.
They were thriving once, but that was before a citrus disease that scientists compare to HIV struck, crippling hundreds of trees and forcing the family to let part of the grove decline, close its juice blending business and put the entire operation up for sale…