For Florida Citrus Growers, There Is Reason To Be Optimistic

Mike Sparks_FCMThe Florida citrus industry received a shot of good news recently when the Farm Bill was signed into law by President Obama. The measure contains $125 million in mandatory funding over the next five years for citrus research.
Mutual lobbied to obtain the funding for almost four years, so to say we are excited and relieved is an understatement. Its inclusion in the Farm Bill was truly a team effort by the Florida citrus industry and the members of our Congressional delegation. The bipartisan support was nothing short of miraculous. All should be thanked for their tireless work on our behalf.

The focus now is efficiently getting the funding to deserving proposals. The work to create a streamlined infrastructure incorporating grower stakeholders is well under way. Although money alone can’t solve the HLB puzzle, the creation of a dedicated source of funding gives me a renewed sense of optimism. I hope others feel it as well. I’m going to go into cheerleader mode here for a minute; spare me the pom poms though.

Still A Giant

Despite battling our old nemesis greening for eight years, Florida citrus remains a powerful economic engine contributing $9 billion annually and 76,000 jobs to the state’s economy. We still cover 525,000 acres, dwarfing any other agricultural endeavor in the state. Citrus forms the backbone of many communities throughout the state’s interior. Take a drive down Highway 27 sometime if you want proof. Citrus not only directly supports processing plants and packinghouses, but also ancillary businesses such as banks, truck dealerships, plant nutrition companies, restaurants, and equipment stores. These businesses would have a hard time surviving if not for citrus.
Plus, citrus health management areas (CHMAs) are working. Every report I’ve seen in the past six months by the folks at FDACS say when growers work together to suppress the psyllid they get extraordinary results. If you are not in an active CHMA, you need to get in one. Anything less is a disservice to our industry.

There is some confidence among growers, too. Re-plantings are rebounding, and although production costs are way up, growing citrus can still be profitable at today’s prices. There are several rootstock varieties out there that have shown a resistance to HLB. Thanks to the state legislative appropriations over the past two years, we now have a world-class germplasm and budwood facilities to support the expansion of Florida citrus.

Can-Doers

Researchers are making headway toward greening solutions. Antimicrobials are showing promise and we expect one to get approval for commercial use soon. Heat therapy also is getting results on infected trees. So much so, that many growers, particularly on the East Coast and in the northern areas are already engineering tents to implement their own heat programs. What’s great about it is heating your trees doesn’t require any sort of regulatory approval. You can hit the ground running. That’s exactly the can-do spirit I’m talking about.
Growers are proud to produce products that support the economy, taste good, and are good for you. As you know, many citrus families have done it for three, four, and five generations all while facing a number of crises including drought, freezes, hurricanes, and disease. Each time, the irrepressible spirit of citrus farmers forged ahead allowing the industry to survive and ultimately thrive. We will do the same with citrus greening.

Topics: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
Campus of Massey University in New Zealand
Citrus
March 23, 2017
Count Down the World’s Top 30 Agriculture Colleges
Familiar names and several new faces among annual ranking’s elite. Read More
Business Planning
March 22, 2017
How HortTech Is Solving Grower Challenges
Dozens of tech companies are looking for solutions to real-world problems vegetable growers face. We take a look at what it could really mean for you and your business. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Industry Groups, Ag Leaders React to Proposed USDA, EPA Budget Cuts
New plan would slash USDA spending by 21%. Read More
fork digging into a plate full of salad
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Since When Did Eating Get So Complicated? [Opinion]
The bottom line to all this is the way we eat is undergoing massive disruption. Read More
Swadesh Santra of UCF
Citrus
March 16, 2017
UCF Stepping up to Be Farming’s Knight in Shining Armor
Hopes are high that the school's new agriculture research center will help growers solve production issues and feed the globe. Read More
A.H. Whitmore Farm in Leesburg, FL, as seen from Google Earth
Varieties & Rootstocks
March 16, 2017
Experimental Citrus Groves Disappearing in Florida
Challenges to growth expand as vital research is in dire need of a home. Read More
Frozen blueberries
Berries
March 15, 2017
Arctic Blast Gives Southern Fruit Growers the Chills
Peaches and berries in bloom most at risk from freezing temperatures. Read More
Citrus
March 15, 2017
Group Wants To Streamline Food Safety Regulations
There are 15 federal agencies implement more than 30 different food safety statutes. A team of experts believe they have a solution. Read More
Cutting the power cord
Citrus
March 14, 2017
Can Your Farm Survive If the Grid Goes Down? Can You?
Even in a plugged-in world, the basics are needed now more than ever. Read More
Stormy skies over Florida
Citrus
March 14, 2017
Concerns Mount in the Sunshine State Over Growing Rainfall Deficits
Water conservation efforts called for as the dry season rolls on. Read More
Citrus
March 10, 2017
Jim Gorden Named California Citrus Research Board Chairman
Gorden, who previously served as chief of the California organization, was a partner in the first independent citrus pest management consulting company in the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
Florida citrus grove
Citrus
March 9, 2017
Florida Citrus Crop Besieged By Sinking Feeling
Latest USDA estimate yanks healthy chunk out of projected yield for oranges. Read More
Banding dry fertilizer on a potato field
Citrus
March 7, 2017
The Andersons Divests Florida Farm Center Locations
Local, family owned custom blend fertilizer company taking over assets and product distribution responsibilities. Read More
Suzanne Wainwright-Evans speaks to crowd at Biocontrols USA West 2017
Citrus
March 6, 2017
More Growers Willing to Bet on Biocontrols
Industry event highlighting alternative pest management methods draws interested crowd to Reno. Read More
Florida red grapefruit samples
Grapefruit & Specialty
March 1, 2017
Is South Korea a Grapefruit Market Goldmine?
Researchers are finding high demand for the tart citrus, opening the door for opportunistic Florida growers to fill the need. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
March 27, 2017
Say Hello to the New Miss Florida Citrus
Storied tradition continues with crowning of the industry’s newest advocate. Read More
Citrus
March 25, 2017
New Videos Offer Tips on Planting Pollin…
A new video series on planting flowering habitats is designed to help growers support crop pollinators. Read More
Citrus
March 24, 2017
Marrone Bio Introduces Biostimulant to R…
Haven Anti-transpirant helps to reduce transpiration of fruit, nut, and vegetable crops. Read More
Citrus
March 23, 2017
Count Down the World’s Top 30 Agricultur…
Familiar names and several new faces among annual ranking’s elite. Read More
Business Planning
March 22, 2017
How HortTech Is Solving Grower Challenge…
Dozens of tech companies are looking for solutions to real-world problems vegetable growers face. We take a look at what it could really mean for you and your business. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Industry Groups, Ag Leaders React to Pro…
New plan would slash USDA spending by 21%. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Since When Did Eating Get So Complicated…
The bottom line to all this is the way we eat is undergoing massive disruption. Read More
Citrus
March 16, 2017
UCF Stepping up to Be Farming’s Kn…
Hopes are high that the school's new agriculture research center will help growers solve production issues and feed the globe. Read More
Berries
March 15, 2017
Arctic Blast Gives Southern Fruit Grower…
Peaches and berries in bloom most at risk from freezing temperatures. Read More
Citrus
March 15, 2017
Group Wants To Streamline Food Safety Re…
There are 15 federal agencies implement more than 30 different food safety statutes. A team of experts believe they have a solution. Read More
Citrus
March 14, 2017
Can Your Farm Survive If the Grid Goes D…
Even in a plugged-in world, the basics are needed now more than ever. Read More
Citrus
March 14, 2017
Concerns Mount in the Sunshine State Ove…
Water conservation efforts called for as the dry season rolls on. Read More
Citrus
March 10, 2017
Jim Gorden Named California Citrus Resea…
Gorden, who previously served as chief of the California organization, was a partner in the first independent citrus pest management consulting company in the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
Citrus
March 9, 2017
Florida Citrus Crop Besieged By Sinking …
Latest USDA estimate yanks healthy chunk out of projected yield for oranges. Read More
Citrus
March 7, 2017
The Andersons Divests Florida Farm Cente…
Local, family owned custom blend fertilizer company taking over assets and product distribution responsibilities. Read More
Citrus
March 6, 2017
More Growers Willing to Bet on Biocontro…
Industry event highlighting alternative pest management methods draws interested crowd to Reno. Read More
Citrus
February 28, 2017
Trump Set to Ditch Controversial Water R…
WOTUS could be on the way out after an executive order calls for a top-to-bottom review. Read More
Citrus
February 25, 2017
Citrus Research Investments Yielding Pos…
Despite still having mounds of wood to chop, grower, federal, and state programs collectively are making a dent. Read More