This is the first installment of four special features honoring the 2017 Florida GrowerSM Citrus Achievement Award winner Ed Pines, Owner of EIP Citrus in Lake Wales.
What are some of the key benefits of growing citrus under protective screen (CUPS)?
Pines: CUPS allows us to be precise with our inputs. We use considerably less water, nutritionals as needed without waste, and have minimal needs for herbicides and pesticides as we exclude insects and seeds. We pay extreme attention to all aspects of the growing operation with intense scouting and monitoring of conditions.
As Florida’s population continues to grow, we will have to provide food for more, while improving the efficiency of growing operations. We take into account all aspects of the fresh citrus business, including the retailers’ demand for safe and traceable growing practices and the consumers’ desires for a healthier great-tasting piece of fruit grown in a responsible, sustainable way. We are excited that Dundee Citrus Growers Association and other growers in the industry are joining forces to create a state-of-the-art complex in accordance with this vision that will begin construction soon.
What helped inspire your 20-acre CUPS planting?
Pines: I saw a presentation back in 2013 on a research paper authored by UF/IFAS scientists Arnold Schumann, Brian Boman, and Barrett Gruber that detailed the benefits of CUPS. After that, I began working very closely with Dr. Schumann on the concept. I can’t say enough about his contribution to our industry and planting the seed that we could consider an alternative way to grow citrus in Florida.
Special thanks to Arysta LifeScience for sponsoring the Citrus Achievement Award.