The Real Deal Miami

Soured Florida housing market now threatening state’s sweet spot

October 27, 2010 04:30PM

An orange tree in Florida

Florida’s soured housing market is claiming another unexpected victim: orange trees. As it turns out, the vacant lots abandoned by developers when their project financing didn’t pan out has left orange groves without caretakers, resulting in citrus greening, also known as yellow dragon disease. In foreclosure-ridden Polk County, for example, more than 10 percent of the 83,000 citrus acres are abandoned. The disease is on the rise amongst orange trees in the state — and it’s killing them. Pesticides are somewhat helpful as a preventative measure, but already-infected trees are a lost cause, experts say. According to Mongi Zekri, a citrus agent at the University of Florida, half of Florida homeowners have trees that have been affected, and “it’s a matter of time before everbody has the disease.” [HousingWatch]