Duda Citrus Division’s Big Planting Makes Bigger Statement

Rob Atchley Photo by Frank Giles
Rob Atchley
Photo by Frank Giles

The math is simple. On average, about 3.5% of Florida’s citrus trees are lost per year with only 2% being replanted. Even without losses due to diseases and weather, tree populations in Florida are declining by 1.5% every year, setting the industry on a path of diminishing production.
Growers face a more difficult decision when planting because of the uncertainty surrounding the future of citrus markets and the progression of HLB. Last year, Coca-Cola stepped up to the plate along with Peace River Citrus Products and Cutrale Citrus Juices to provide 20-year contracts with growers to encourage replanting. While there is no money supplied up front, it does set a floor price to provide a certain sense of security in making an investment in new plantings. The contract includes 25,000 acres worth of new citrus.

Duda Citrus Division has signed on for the program to buck the declining tree population trend. “We were fortunate that Peace River Citrus Products asked us to participate in the planting program,” says Rob Atchley, general manager of citrus groves for Duda. “The Coke project is all about managing variables. If you can at least limit your price exposure, then it really boils down to whether you believe you can make a crop. Based on what we’ve seen in our more recent plantings, we are more and more confident we can make the crops and get a return on investment — and more importantly, profitability.”

Last year, Duda planted about 1,000 acres of new groves on its property south of LaBelle. This year, another 1,700 acres are being planted. “While we are replanting these large blocks, we also are getting back on an aggressive three-year reset program on our established groves to get to 100% reset status.”
Atchley appreciates grower reservations about planting as HLB continues to spread. “We have HLB in every block, but we’ve been able to keep the expression level of the disease down to manageable levels,” he says. “We have some younger blocks that are almost seven years old that have been very successful. At five years old, we had a block that had a cumulative infection rate of only 2.5%.
“Three or four years ago, we might not have been so gung-ho to replant. What has given us confidence is since canker eradication and before the Coke deal, we put in about 1,000 acres of solid-set trees. We are getting some age on these trees now and they are yielding very well. That gives us more confidence.”

Packing In More Trees

Atchley says the old way of doing things can’t apply to the new blocks going in on the farm. New rootstocks, densities, and giving trees everything possible to get off to a strong, stress-free start is a top priority.
“Traditionally, the company has favored Swingle and Carrizo rootstocks. And, those are well represented in this expansion project,” he says. “We have started doing more with US 897 because it makes good quality fruit and also is size limiting, which lends itself to planting higher density. Higher densities are culturally necessary to be more productive, more quickly.”
The production team also is looking at US 812, US 802, and US 942 based on production and tree size. “There is a lot of attention on the new rootstocks for tolerating HLB a little better,” says Atchley. “I hope that is the case, but how well they fit higher densities and our soil types is what’s driving our choices.”


Plantings are now closer to increase density. While 24-foot rows have been traditional and are still part of the mix, some new blocks will feature 22- and 20-foot spacing. “We are even putting in 600 acres at 18 feet,” says Atchley. “I really believe we are just getting where we want to be at 18- and 20-foot rows. The days of 25-foot row spacing are over.”

Pages: 1 2 3

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Duda Citrus Division’s Big Planting Makes Bigger Statement

Citrus Stories
CitrusBiocontrols 2015: Exhibition Sneak Preview
February 25, 2015
We take a look inside the exhibit hall at the Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow. Read More
CitrusNew App Helps Identify Insects, Diseases, And Nutrient Deficiencies
February 24, 2015
Spensa Technologies launches app that helps growers take control of pests and improve soil nutrients. Read More
CitrusPacked Political Agenda On Tap For Florida Farmers
February 23, 2015
The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s board of directors are working on a number of key issues that will be front-burner throughout 2015. Read More
CitrusWest Coast Governors Call For End To Port Labor Impasse
February 19, 2015
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez helps mediate discussions between dockworkers and port operators. Read More
CitrusCompanion Biological Fungicide Now OMRI Listed
February 19, 2015
The biological fungicide from Growth Products is now registered for use in organic production. Read More
Varieties & RootstocksExperimental Florida Mandarins Measure Up
February 19, 2015
Variety display day results show Florida citrus research and development is on the right track. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateScientists Cue Up 3D Printing In Quest To Quash Citrus Greening
February 18, 2015
Multidimensional technology used to build “SmartTrap” for vector of the disease. Read More
The Latest
Citrus18 Must-Have Apps For GenNext Growers
March 1, 2015
We asked about your favorite mobile applications, and here's what you had to say. Read More
FNV logo
CitrusPMA Announces Funding For Major Produce Marketing Progr…
February 26, 2015
The produce industry is getting into brand marketing in a big way. The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has announced the launch of a new promotional campaign - FNV - designed to take a page from the marketing strategies of big-money consumer brands like Nike and Apple. Read More
CitrusFDA, Federal Partners Develop New Method For Attributin…
February 25, 2015
Data was analyzed from nearly 1,000 outbreaks to assess which categories of foods were most responsible for making people sick. Read More
CitrusBiocontrols 2015: Exhibition Sneak Preview
February 25, 2015
We take a look inside the exhibit hall at the Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow. Read More
CitrusNew App Helps Identify Insects, Diseases, And Nutrient …
February 24, 2015
Spensa Technologies launches app that helps growers take control of pests and improve soil nutrients. Read More
CitrusPacked Political Agenda On Tap For Florida Farmers
February 23, 2015
The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s board of directors are working on a number of key issues that will be front-burner throughout 2015. Read More
CitrusWest Coast Governors Call For End To Port Labor Impasse
February 19, 2015
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez helps mediate discussions between dockworkers and port operators. Read More
CitrusCompanion Biological Fungicide Now OMRI Listed
February 19, 2015
The biological fungicide from Growth Products is now registered for use in organic production. Read More
CitrusNew Desalination Technology May Be The Answer To Califo…
February 18, 2015
Researchers plan to address concerns with a process that will examine ways to turn seawater into drinkable water. Read More
David Holden
CitrusBiopesticides, Biostimulants Show Results In Fruits And…
February 18, 2015
From biostimulants in celery and avocado to biopesticides in citrus and strawberries, consultant David Holden conducts in-the-field research that attests to the effectiveness of biocontrols. Read More
CitrusMegadrought In The West Predicted By End Of The Century
February 18, 2015
Lowering greenhouse gases will reduce risk, scientists say. Read More
CitrusIRS Change Could Pay Off In More Citrus Plantings
February 17, 2015
Florida Citrus Mutual is pushing a proposal forward that will allow growers to directly write off putting new trees in the ground. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Poised For A Comeback
February 12, 2015
About halfway through the 2014-2015 season, and the crop could go either way. Read More
CitrusTier 4 Regulations Pique Propane Interest
February 12, 2015
New rules are extending to non-road applications like irrigation engines. Read More
CitrusSearch Is On For The Next Miss Florida Citrus
February 11, 2015
Pre-Miss America pageant makes its return offering contestants a chance to represent the industry and further their education. Read More
CitrusIs The ‘Agripocalypse’ Nearing? [Opinion]
February 10, 2015
Recent report indicates time is not on agriculture's side. Action is needed now to keep future growers engaged. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Crop Holding On
February 10, 2015
Updated USDA forecast shows no change in orange and grapefruit yield. Read More
CitrusAgriculture Among Top Paying College Degrees Of 2015
February 9, 2015
Report reveals good news for graduates looking to make some green in farming. Read More