According to the USDA estimates Florida will produce nearly 45 million boxes of oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits by the end of the year and that is the lowest number seen in decades.By Casey Albritton

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The United States Department of Agriculture says Florida’s Citrus Production continues to struggle. The agency says it is at its lowest since the 1940’s.

One local farmer says he’s seeing half of the citrus production compared to three years ago, and he says it’s all because of a plant disease.

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“We’re seeing the reduction in our business as well,” said citrus farmer, Christian Spinosa.

Christian Spinosa is a citrus farmer in Polk County. He’s worried about the disease attacking citrus fruit grown across the state

“In the last three years, that’s down by almost 50%,” said Spinosa.

According to the USDA estimates Florida will produce nearly 45 million boxes of oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits by the end of the year and that is the lowest number seen in decades.

“We will have to import some to meet our demand,” said Spinosa.

Which could mean higher prices for these fruits.

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“Between the jobs that we provide, and the economic impact we have in our community, not just on a state level, but on a local level, being down will definitely impact our community,” said Spinosa.

The culprit is Spinosa says it’s all because of a plant disease called citrus greening.

“It suffocates the tree. It’s restricting the amount of nutrients and the water that tree can get up to the fruit and so we are seeing green fruit, mis-shaped fruit, you’ll see leaves will fall because of the lack of nutrition,” said Spinosa.

He also says there’s also another issue.

“This past year we had two major weather events, two freezes in January that really hit our Valencia, our late season crop,” said Spinosa.

Spinosa says researchers are trying to find a solution to citrus greening, but for now, it’s an ongoing issue.

“We as an industry are going to have to establish the new normal. Is it 40 million boxes, is it 35 million boxes, I think over the next couple of years we will figure out what that new normal is,” said Spinosa.

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Despite the decrease, Spinosa is asking the public for help . He wants you to support citrus growers and continue to buy orange juice.