Daily downpours raise concern for citrus crops - FOX 13 News

Daily downpours raise concern for citrus crops

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LAKELAND (FOX 13) -

Rain is one thing, but the recent daily downpours in the Tampa Bay area are stressing out citrus growers.

"We always have periods of heavy rainfall, but they only last two weeks to a month," said Mark Wheeler, of Wheeler Farms, Inc.

The company owns 2,500 acres of primarily orange groves in Highland, Polk and Manatee counties.

Too much rain can rot roots, stop the tree from producing enough leaves, and make it susceptible to fungus and disease.

Rain can also help diseases like canker to spread.

"Infection occurs when the wind is more than 18 miles an hour. We have those conditions every thunderstorm, so we call the kind of weather canker weather," Dr. Jim Graham of the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center said.

Half the state's trees already have canker. Canker only affects certain species of orange and can make the fruit look ugly. Orange growers are generally less worried about that because they sell their fruit to be juiced.

It is another story for grapefruit growers. They sell their fruit as produce, so when it looks bad it is not marketable.

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