What was something you learned about growing citrus from the proverbial “old timers?”
Newlin: “I had the great honor of being proctored by some of the best production managers the Florida citrus industry has ever had. Joe Mottashed (American Agronomics), Erroll Fielding (Orange-Co), and Royce Godwin (Ben Hill Griffin) all put emphases on similar things, but in much different ways. Joe was like Tom Landry, Erroll was like Bill Walsh and Royce was, of course, like Vince Lombardi. Here’s a few things I picked up from them:
– Treat all people you work with the way you would want to be treated, especially the ones working directly for you, because that’s where the real work gets done. Be a polite Southern gentleman.
– Always remember the basic detailed fundamentals of citrus care. If you carry out a caretaking function, do it right. Don’t just do it to say it’s done.
– Focus on the problems, because then everything becomes good.
– There must be some reason man’s ears were made to stay open and his mouth made to shut. Listen to what others say.
– The best fertilizer for a grove is the grower’s footprints. Take care of business, be on the job, on time, and always follow-up.
– Take care of a citrus tree and it will take care of you.”
On the flip side, how is modern technology impacting citrus production?
Newlin: “When some of the new technology came out, it was expensive and we didn’t see the payback. However, today, computers and cell phones are everywhere and they’ve become mobile with endless applications. Taking it a step further, we now are using variable rate applicators, wireless soil moisture sensors, and local weather stations, to name a few. These have huge paybacks in saving materials and water applied that relates to real meaningful dollars and reduced inputs. I’m usually slow to come on board. But if I see a verifiable payback, then I’m full steam ahead.”
Special thanks to Chemtura AgroSolutions for sponsoring the Citrus Achievement Award program.