Orange juice prices are expected to climb after forecasts call for the smallest crop since 1945.

Frozen concentrated orange-juice futures ended Friday at around $1.50 a pound, up roughly 50 percent since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Futures jumped 5.1 percent on Thursday, after the US Agriculture Department cut its expectations for the current crop.

The Ag Department said that it expects Florida to produce 44.5 million 90-pound boxes of oranges in 2022, and that the crop will be smaller than in 2017, when Hurricane Irma devastated that year's crop.

Citrus greening is being blamed for the decrease this season, according to the Florida Department of Citrus. Citrus greening is an incurable disease that thins out the crowns of trees and weakens their vitality.

On the plus side, global orange production is expected to be healthy this year. Even with the threat of drought and frost, production in Brazil, for example, is expected to be 12 percent higher than last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Demand for juice oranges is down, however, as more and more consumers are attracted to less sugary drinks.

A quick check online reveals the prices of OJ locally.

*Woods sells Simply Orange (52 oz) for $3.99

*WalMart sells Tropicana (52 oz) for $3.48

*Save-A-Lot sells Tipton Grove OJ (52 oz) for $2.55

*Aldi sells Nature's Nectar OJ (52 oz) for $2.75

*Hy-Vee (in Warrensburg) sells its house brand OJ (½ gal) for $2.99, Florida's Natural (52 oz) for $3.28 and Anderson Erickson (½ gal) for $3.29

You can also order Tropicana (52 oz) from Amazon for $3.99. And Casey's has a much smaller bottle (12 oz) for sale for $1.99.

Citrus cocktail, jug, pieces of fruit on a dark background, selective focus

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