Citrus Crisis: Saltwater Intrusion Threatens Louisiana's Citrus Industry

The Mississippi River faces a creeping menace: saltwater intrusion. It's not just about drinking water; it's impacting Louisiana's citrus farmers too.

Saltwater can harm citrus plants at any stage of their growth. For Plaquemines Parish, it's not just agriculture; it's the heartbeat of Louisiana's citrus industry.

The stakes are high - it's a $10 million direct hit on citrus fruits, and another $10 to $15 million in citrus plants each year.

Saltwater's impact is swift; it can cause drooping and yellow leaves. Farmers are racing against time to rescue their crops.

Joseph Ranatza, a nursery owner, faces uncertainty. The saltwater threat is unprecedented, and it could disrupt citrus orders across the country.

To combat saltwater, Ranatza's nursery has adopted innovative methods. They've shifted to drip irrigation to protect their plants.

The salt can burn the foliage, ultimately killing the plant. The key is to deliver water directly to the base.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts saltwater will reach Belle Chasse on October 27th, with implications extending into January.

This isn't a short-term issue. It's a long-term problem that could jeopardize farmers' livelihoods if sufficient rainfall doesn't arrive.

Farmers are advised to monitor water salinity and dilute saltwater with any freshwater they have stored. It's a battle to save the citrus industry.

As saltwater encroaches, farmers struggle to adapt. The citrus crisis serves as a stark reminder of the broader impact of climate change on local economies.