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Ian's 'extremely dangerous' eyewall moving ashore in southwestern Florida

Hurricane Ian's expected damaging wind and flooding is threatening most of Florida’s massive citrus industry.

At least 75% of the Florida citrus belt is under threat of heavy flooding rains over the next 36 hours, according to satellite imagery provider Maxar Technologies.

Maxar’s WeatherDesk finds that at least a third of the groves are likely to see some wind damage, mostly in the northwestern portion of the citrus belt. 

How the market is reacting: Florida is a leading citrus producer, including oranges and grapefruit. Orange juice futures jumped 4% on Wednesday afternoon as investors bet supply will be hurt by Hurricane Ian. The price is up by almost 30% so far this year.

The timing of the storm is difficult for farmers in Florida as citrus crops are nearing harvest season. 

“There will be quite a bit of fruit drop and losses of fruit from the trees,” Maxar said. 

Citrus production was already under significant pressure even before Hurricane Ian.

In July, the US Department of Agriculture estimated US production of oranges would drop by 13% in 2021 AND 2022 to the lowest level in 55 years because of the drought in California and citrus greening in Florida.

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