Orange crops squeezed by cold weather, incurable disease

Orange juice, an American breakfast table staple, may eventually become a rare treat if damaged crops continue to sour the citrus industry.

For the second consecutive year, Florida farmers have lost much of their crop because of cold weather. As a result, the cost of orange juice is expected to spike this year.

And unfortunately, nature's havoc isn't farmers' only concern. A quick-spreading bacteria, called "citrus greening" is threatening to destroy groves and hurt the citrus industry, USA Today reported.

According to USA Today:

Citrus greening has destroyed groves in the U.S., Brazil, Asia and Africa. Detected in Florida in 2005, it leaves fruit sour, malformed and unusable. Eventually, it kills the tree.

The disease has been particularly devastating because it takes years for citrus trees to reach peak production, and the disease targets young trees, making it difficult for growers to replace those that have been lost.

There is no cure for the disease. Hopefully, researchers will find one. But if things get really bad, as they did a few years ago, there's always hoping that our Brazilian trading partners will have lots of rain -- and a bountiful crop.

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