Hurricane Irma had a serious impact on the citrus industry, and that included Fort Myers-based agribusiness firm Alico, Inc. which reported a $19.1 million loss in the fourth quarter, according to financial statements released this week.
Alico reported losses of $1.14 per share in the fourth quarter, down from earnings of $0.84 per share in the 2017 fiscal year, which ended September 30. The company blames $24 million in “one-time items” for the loss, including lost inventory due to Irma, and a restructuring of the firm’s citrus producing units. Irma made landfall on September 10, Alico’s fourth quarter losses came out to $2.29 per share.
Alico’s Citrus Division reported a 17.8 percent drop in citrus yield for 2017, including a 22 percent drop in Valencia oranges. The company filled 7.58 million 90-pound boxes of citrus for the 2016-17 season, down from 9.23 million. The company blames a variety of factors on the weak crop, including drought, an atypically warm winter, and citrus greening, a bacterial infection which kills citrus trees.
Citrus greening has been an especially devastating problem for citrus growers in Florida, with last year’s citrus crop coming in down 16 percent from the year before, and hitting a 50-year low. Now, with Hurricane Irma devastating groves throughout the state, estimates for this year’s crop are the lowest on record, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimating just 46 million boxes for the season, down from 2016’s already disastrous 68.7 million.
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