Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Hurricane Irma's effects on Florida's citrus growing region is expected to send orange juice prices higher -- and may possibly harm the industry's long-term outlook.
Orange juice drinkers may pay an additional $2.30 per gallon, experts say.
The exact amount of the increase, though, will depend on Brazil's ability to increase U.S. exports to help cover the shortfall.
The months of September and October are crucial for the orange industry, as citrus is in its prime during this period -- and it's estimated that anywhere from 30-70 percent of Florida's crops were destroyed by Irma.
"There are some adjusters on the ground right now writing 100 percent losses," Adam Putnam, Florida's agricultural commissioner, said. "There are groves still under water. Carpets of rotting fruit, mature trees entirely defoliated."
Officials say the health of the industry will likely continue to suffer as more fruit falls prematurely and flooded waters harm orange groves that are underwater.
In an address to the Florida Department of Citrus last week, Putnam said federal funding is a must if the state's flagship industry will rebound soon to pre-Irma conditions.
"It has decimated our industry," he said. "The path of this storm could not have been any worse for Florida agriculture and Florida citrus.
"But, we're tougher than that storm. And Florida citrus will pick up, replant and move on."