State lawmakers have decided to help research a major issue in Florida’s citrus industry.
A House subcommittee will provide funding to the $9 billion industry to research citrus greening, a disease that affects citrus trees in Florida.
Peter Spyke, a citrus grower who owns Marion County’s largest citrus farm, said he thinks the bugs carrying the disease might have made its way to every Florida citrus farm.
The disease spreads through small bugs called psyllids that travel from one tree to the next. The disease affects the tree roots, causing less fruit to grow over time.
“It’s not a question of whether or not you have it in your grove — you do,” Spyke said. “So every grower is on this nutritional program now and it seems to be working fairly well.”
Growers spray citrus trees with nutrients to help the disease-affected trees.
“It doubled the cost of growing fruit so it is expensive,” he said.
Spyke said he hopes lawmakers are able to provide funding for more research into citrus greening to help growers address the issue.
“There’s not a question of whether or not we’re going to keep going,” he said. “We’re always going to have people that want the Florida citrus or the juice.”