GIFFORD, Fla. (WFLA/WPTV) – It’s a sweet recovery after the wrath of Hurricane Irma.
Citrus trees are finally recovering from the devastating storm.
The US Department of Agriculture predicts there will be near 35 million more boxes of fruit than last year.
Inside the cooler in Riverfront Packing Company in Gifford, you’ll find the last of this year’s grapefruit crop.
While the space may look empty and cold right now, growers are feeling anything but.
“There’s a little kick in our step in the industry these days,” said Dan Richey, with the company.
This citrus season was the best in years.
“We completed the season Monday. It was a good season. We packed over 900,000 cartons of grapefruit in this facility. Our growers right now are seeing a comeback crop.”
That comeback has been needed for a while. Hurricane Irma damaged last season’s crop, but the trees are finally producing again.
For years before that, growers have been dealing with citrus canker and greening, but Doug Bourique with Indian River Citrus League said scientists are working on it.
“Our office is in the USDA lab and I can assure you they’re getting very close and cracking that nut and some of the key features of how to stop greening from spreading,” he said.
Growers are finally sensing that sweet taste of victory.