Regardless of the type of citrus crop that is endangered at present, there are many causes. Reading the reports from the USDA, Agricultural Colleges, The Farmers Association, contaminated plants, and lack of care of concern etc. do not help eliminate these problems.
These problems are noted over many years creating misshapen fruit, unpalatable fruit, early drop of unripe fruit, smaller fruit size, and lower quality fruit juice. Thus reducing the quantity of quality harvest fruit.
THE SILENT KILLER is the same for all living species. STRESS! Certainly all of the mentioned problems create stress for the citrus groves. We all know weakened (stressed) plants are readily attacked or infected by any of a number of agents.
Now let us introduce the real Silent Killer, “Weather.” For the past five years, and maybe more, the summers have started earlier and lasted longer. In 2008 the first 90 degree day was in late May early June going to mid or late September. As the years rolled by the first 90 degree day was even earlier such that in 2013 the first 90 degree day was around April 15 while the last one was mid to late October. During the last three years there has been no major tropical storms (because of the current weather patterns), long summers with well below average rainfall. It is well known when the temperature is above 85 to 90 degrees plants stop growing and try to store any available water (self preservation). When this occurs the plant cannot flower and set fruit. Consequently when the temperature falls and the rains come it is too late. The groves have been stressed for months and now are easy prey for the problems already mentioned.
Addendum: The year 2014 already has started out warm with no rain. These weather patterns will continue for at least the next three to five years. This will destroy the citrus crops regardless of the research being done. The only hope is for a rapid and significant change in the weather cycle presently entrenched in the U.S.
Alton Linwood Seaver