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Florida's Orange Crop To Be Smaller Than Anticipated

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BARTOW (CBSMiami/AP) — Florida's orange crop is set to be smaller than anticipated, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The department released a bleak estimate for the state's citrus industry, saying that the 2014-2015 Florida orange crop will yield 96.4 million boxes of fruit, down from the 104 million boxes produced last year.

The estimate released Tuesday represents a decline of 60 percent since the peak of citrus production at 244 million boxes in 1997-98.

Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam said it shows just how severely citrus greening has devastated Florida's top fruit crop.

Greening is spread by a gnat-sized insect called the Asian citrus psyllid. Greening causes fruit to shrink and drop early and eventually kills the tree.

Putnam's agency has requested $18 million to support research and to remove and replant diseased trees.

Florida's citrus industry is worth $10.7 billion and supports 64,000 jobs.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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