High Pressure Building In Need For Citrus Trees

Photo by Peter Chaires
Photo by Peter Chaires

Like any successful business, citrus growers and nursery operations are gathering information to inform financial and operational plans for the next few years. However, it is difficult to take aim at a target that is constantly moving. Forecasts have clearly articulated the necessity for new plantings if the industry is going to stem the decline in production. We must minimally replace as many trees as we are losing. Growers are modifying grove architecture and densities while implementing young-tree management programs. In the midst of these promising developments, growers continue to witness decline in mature grove production and suffer the effects of small fruit size, low packouts, fruit drop, increased harvesting costs, and difficulty maintaining quality. While many are encouraged by the prospect of new pesticides, tolerant rootstocks, and antimicrobial and thermal therapies, the rapidly changing landscape plays havoc on the decision-making process.

Surveying The Scene

Industry stakeholders have inquired about the status of tree orders and the mindset of growers as they seek to balance the need for replacement acreage with uncertainty and an incomplete data-set. Seeking insight into this issue, I solicited the assistance of FNGLA’s Citrus Nursery Division to survey nursery owners. Fourteen nurseries completed the survey (10 during the initial request and the remaining through subsequent interviews).

The stability of tree orders may speak volumes about the mindset of the industry and its willingness to press ahead. 50% of responding nurseries indicated increasing orders compared to the past couple years. 40% are holding steady and only 10% reported a decline.
Nurseries were asked whether orders for one type of citrus fruit are more consistent than others. 80% of responses identified orders for round oranges as the most consistent and reliable, followed by navel oranges for the fresh market at 20%.

When asked about the strength of orders by production region, 40% said that orders from the southern flatwoods are the most consistent, while 64% indicated no regional differences or were unsure.

Reliance On Rootstocks

The survey asked whether orders for citrus trees have been impacted to any degree by the limited availability of potentially tolerant rootstocks and the absence of approved therapies. One third of respondents indicated these factors had negatively impacted orders or slowed them down (from what they would have been), 22% of respondents indicated these factors had influenced growers to increase orders, and the balance indicated this was either not a factor or they were unsure. It is difficult to juxtapose these answers with replies to the first question. One can only presume that the context for replies to this question is “compared to what the orders would have been — had more rootstocks or therapies been available.”

Nurseries were asked “if or when tree orders are cancelled, are you having difficulty finding new buyers for the trees?” 64% of respondents indicated that they had not experienced any significant cancellations, while 40% said that they had no difficulty reselling the trees. There were some reports of difficulty moving trees on Swingle due to concern for heightened disease susceptibility.

Inventory Inquiry

Some growers share the opinion that a larger caliper nursery tree accelerates field production, translating to earlier positive cash flow. Nurseries were asked whether growers are pressuring them to hold trees in the nursery longer than normal. One third of the respondents indicated growers are asking them to hold trees longer. Those who indicated growers are asking them to hold trees in the nursery longer, added that this is causing a constraint on their capacity and product turnover.

HLB And Beyond

Finally, nurseries were asked to identify emerging trends or challenges for production of citrus trees in an HLB environment. Answers included:

  • Grower uncertainly about what they want. Orders can change before liners are ready to bud.
  • Interest in more tolerant rootstocks and scions
  • With lower production, growers are talking about cutting production costs and in some cases, this means eliminating resets.
  • Growers wanting larger trees for the same price.
  • Changing rootstocks within the nursery to keep pace with grower demand is a moving target and flavor of the week. We get ramped up on one and ready to go and growers want something else.
  • Growers being apprehensive about trying new rootstocks, as so little data will be available.

Although this survey did not cover all or even most of the commercial Florida citrus nurseries, the responses may offer helpful insight into the issues of order stability, confidence, and concerns that may influence decisions.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
CitrusWestern Growers Praises Introduction Of California Emergency Drought Relief Act
July 30, 2015
Legislation contains short- and long-term provisions to deal with the historic drought. Read More
CitrusGroup Food Safety Audits May Help Prepare You For The Produce Rule
July 29, 2015
Group food safety audits, slated to be available next spring, may save small- to mid-size growers time and money. Read More
CitrusNew Director Named For Florida’s Citrus Research And Education Center
July 28, 2015
Michael Rogers takes a positive charge at finding solutions to greening. Read More
Washington Capitol building
CitrusHouse Passes Bill To Block State GMO Food Labeling Mandates
July 27, 2015
The legislation would offer a federal standard for voluntary labeling of foods containing GMOs.   Read More
Citrus2 Dozen Florida Nurseries Vying For Coveted Cannabis Growing Licenses
July 27, 2015
With only five spots available to produce the low-THC ‘Charlotte’s Web’ strain, tedious review process is in full swing. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateSecond Case In A Month Of Citrus Greening In California
July 24, 2015
More trees testing positive for disease within close proximity of original find. Read More
CitrusUSDA Expands Crop Insurance Options For Fruit And Nut Growers
July 24, 2015
The USDA announced the expansion of crop insurance to provide additional options for fruit and nut producers. The Supplemental Coverage Read More
The Latest
woman smashing an alarm clock with a hammer
CitrusDon’t Become A Time Crunch Casualty
July 31, 2015
Finding the balance between work life and home life is easier said than done for GenNext Growers. Read More
money
CitrusBankrupt Florida Farm To Yield Plenty Of Land, Equipmen…
July 30, 2015
As many as seven different buyers could be part of this Chapter 11 proceeding. Read More
CitrusWestern Growers Praises Introduction Of California Emer…
July 30, 2015
Legislation contains short- and long-term provisions to deal with the historic drought. Read More
CitrusGroup Food Safety Audits May Help Prepare You For The P…
July 29, 2015
Group food safety audits, slated to be available next spring, may save small- to mid-size growers time and money. Read More
CitrusNew Director Named For Florida’s Citrus Research And Ed…
July 28, 2015
Michael Rogers takes a positive charge at finding solutions to greening. Read More
Washington Capitol building
CitrusHouse Passes Bill To Block State GMO Food Labeling Mand…
July 27, 2015
The legislation would offer a federal standard for voluntary labeling of foods containing GMOs.   Read More
Citrus2 Dozen Florida Nurseries Vying For Coveted Cannabis Gr…
July 27, 2015
With only five spots available to produce the low-THC ‘Charlotte’s Web’ strain, tedious review process is in full swing. Read More
CitrusUSDA Expands Crop Insurance Options For Fruit And Nut G…
July 24, 2015
The USDA announced the expansion of crop insurance to provide additional options for fruit and nut producers. The Supplemental Coverage Read More
FFVA 2015 Annual Convention logo
CitrusFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Annual Conven…
July 23, 2015
Association's 72nd gathering to feature high-profile speakers, up-to-the-minute Issues Forums, and some fun to mix in with the business of the day. Read More
CitrusMarketing Order Amendments Referendum Set For Fresh Flo…
July 22, 2015
Changes include the authorization and regulation of new varieties. Read More
Shannon Shepp
CitrusInterim Executive Director Named For Florida Department…
July 22, 2015
Shannon Shepp will take on leadership duties immediately after unanimous Citrus Commission vote. Read More
CitrusInternational Report Confirms 2014 As Earth’s Warmest Y…
July 21, 2015
Scientific compilation notes climate markers continue to show global warming trend. Read More
non-gmo label leafy greens
CitrusGMO Labeling Battle Moves To House Floor
July 21, 2015
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 was passed by the Agriculture Committee last week and will head Read More
Doug Ackerman
CitrusFlorida Department Of Citrus Executive Director Resigns
July 21, 2015
Doug Ackerman steps down after traffic incident. Read More
CitrusWOTUS Wranglings Leaving Agriculture High And Dry [Opin…
July 17, 2015
In late May, the EPA announced the highly anticipated final rule re-defining the waters of the United States (WOTUS) under Read More
man expressing opinion through bullhorn
CitrusStay Opinionated, My Farmer Friends
July 15, 2015
How far are you willing to go to defend your beliefs? Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Water Managers Keeping Close Eye On Dry C…
July 15, 2015
Traditional wet season has been anything but so far as certain parts of the region now experiencing “extreme drought.” Read More
Washington Capitol building
CitrusUnited Fresh Washington Conference Connects You With Ke…
July 14, 2015
United Fresh has announced the Washington Conference, which will be held Sept. 28-30 in Washington D.C. The conference offers an Read More