LABELLE, FL. -- With crop damages running high throughout the state after
high winds blew fruit off trees, Hendry county grapefruit grove owners may
reap a windfall this season if prices rise. Central Florida growers have
lost about 80% of their crops due to Hurricanes Francis and Charley.
Grapefruit has been a money loser for several years statewide due to over
production and lower demand from consumers. Florida growers expected a
2004-05 crop of about 38 million boxes which was low enough to put supply
and demand back in synch. But the expected crop should be only about 13
million this season. The last time a grapefruit crop was that low was in
1937. Hendry county has about 5770 acres of grapefruit, and suffered
substantially no crop losses due to the hurricanes last month.