Hurricane Irma wiped out 70% of Florida's orange crop

Citrus supply could impact small businesses
Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 17:13:25-04

Florida legislators are hoping to pass a bill that will help citrus growers recover from Hurricane Irma after 70 percent of the state's orange crop was wiped out. 

Congressman Vern Buchanan wants to include farmers as part of a relief package that's to be considered by Congress in October. 

"Florida farmers are hurting and they need our help," said Buchanan. 

The bill would make it less costly for growers to replace trees damaged by Hurricane Irma or citrus greening. It would also help provide tax incentives for farmers who can't afford to replace damaged trees. 

Experts estimate a 50 to 70 percent crop loss in Florida after Irma, and some citrus growers are experiencing up to 90 percent losses in some places.

That's why some experts are already predicting you can expect to see a rise in orange juice.

A concern for small businesses, like Vince Shook. 

The family owned business makes 43 flavors of wine in St. Petersburg at their Florida Orange Groves Winery off Pasadena Avenue South.

Six of those flavored wines depend on citrus, and one of the popular items depends on oranges. 

"Obviously in the next year or so they're will be price increases on the products that we use: oranges, grapefruits, tangerines," he said. 

The winery buys their fruit juices already squeezed, then they put it through a process that can take up to a year to age into different flavors. 

The small business also bottles up the wine products. 

The business offers free tours, and free samples of the flavored wine daily.

The demand for the flavored wine is increasing too, including across the country, as people can now open their own tropical themed wine shop as part of a business opportunity across the US. 

The  impact of citrus prices increasing could take up to a year, but Shook says they will do whatever they can to not raise prices, but it will depend on what their suppliers end up charge them. 

For more information on the Florida Orange Groves Winery, click here.