Thursday, November 30, 2023

Florida, Texas, and California: Partners in Working with Climate Change


Who doesn't love juicy, delicious citrus right off the tree? Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, it is our number one priority. Year after year, we work closely with local, sustainable growers in the fertile soils of central Florida to make sure you are receiving the freshest produce available.  Lately, the climate has been more unpredictable than in the past, with climate change accounting for bigger and more damaging storms during the summer months, longer periods of freezing in the wintertime, saltwater intrusion, and changing, uneven weather patterns. Climate change is a global reality, so what can we do about it?

A Small Carbon Footprint

Agriculture is one of the most impactful ways in which humans can affect the environment. Add to this fact that by 2050, there will be a dramatic increase in the need to feed people. Fortunately, of all of the foods produced globally, citrus has the very lowest carbon dioxide emission per kilogram, with an emission value of only 0.39. Compare that to beef, which comes in at a whopping 99.48! So, we can be reassured that citrus growing is a sustainable industry, and one that has not added to nor contributed fuel to the encroaching fire of climate change. Furthermore, the citrus industry is currently being used as a model for sustainably feeding people well into the future, when the demand for nourishing food is expected only to increase.

Climate Effects on Citrus Growing

While it is good to know that citrus growing is not adversely affecting the environment, climate change-induced weather events have the increasing potential to adversely affect the citrus groves. As such, we must diligently work to counter these effects by modifying our approaches. The Florida Citrus Belt, as it is known, is located right in the crosshairs of both hurricane tracks (see diagram above) and the southern reaches of cold fronts. As both of these events increase in intensity with climate change, the effects are noteworthy: crops can be lost to too many nights of exposure to freezing temperatures, citrus greening and infestations by psyllid insects due to excessive heat and moisture can destroy whole groves, and saltwater intrusion can kill trees at their roots.

Working in Partnership

California and Florida have long influenced each other when it comes to growing citrus, as both states have climates that make them the top producers of most of the varieties that we eat.  Texas comes in as a close second. While in past years that influence has mostly been in the form of sharing research and management techniques, with the onset of climate change, growers in all three states are now cross-pollinating (pun intended) to share their harvests nationally. In the interest of keeping the carbon footprint low and the citrus quality, accessibility, and variety high, we have now expanded our groves to include California and Texas--the "national citrus belt," so to speak. This way, we can all access some really delicious fruit such as Golden Honeybellsclassic Honeybells and late season Navels and Tangerines through January, even after the Florida season when the western fruits hit their flavor peaks. 

So rest assured: you can enjoy and gift all of the varieties of citrus we offer at different times of the year and know that you are also nourishing both your health as well as the health of the planet.


World of Statistics on X: "The environmental impact of foods 

Florida is already seeing climate change. New global report says it could worsen | WUSF

Modeling the carbon footprint of fresh produce: effects of transportation, localness, and seasonality on US orange markets (

How historical trends in Florida all‐citrus production correlate with devastating hurricane and freeze events - Ferrarezi - 2020 - Weather - Wiley Online Library

Inside Florida's citrus groves, where growers are working to solve devastating disease and a climate-related shortage to save America's oranges (

California Citrus Industry Follows in Florida's Research Footsteps - Citrus Industry Magazine

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