Feds: Hurricanes Devastated Florida's Citrus Crops

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A federal forecast released Tuesday shows Florida's citrus crop will be the smallest in 13 years, down almost a third from last season, because of the three hurricanes that tore through the state's groves.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture survey showed that Florida's orange crop will be down 27 percent from last season and that the state's grapefruit crop will be 63 percent smaller.

Small orange and grapefruit crops likely will increase prices for growers with fruit left on their trees, and cause fresh grapefruit exporters to scramble for new sources of fruit.

Florida produces three-quarters of the nation's citrus, and most of Florida's oranges are turned into juice.

The cost of futures contracts for frozen orange juice concentrate is also expected to rise, but orange juice drinkers might be cushioned from price increases because last season was the second largest crop ever, and processors have a large inventory.