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
Citrus
July 22, 2017
Representative from Washington Proposes Amendment to H-2A Program
Move broadens use of H-2A to all of agriculture to include those with multiple crops and harvests. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
July 21, 2017
University of California Launches Website to Update Growers on Citrus Research
Easy-to-read format designed to give growers up-to-date information on huanglongbing and Asian citrus psyllid research. Read More
Hurricane Matthew satellite image as it brushed past Florida
Citrus
July 20, 2017
Atlantic Hurricane Forecast Taken Up a Notch
Current conditions in the tropics warrant marked revision in potential storm season scenarios. Read More
Sunset on Florida potato field day
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Researchers On a Mission to Find More Places for Growing Produce
Federal grant to aid exploration of food security solutions for the future. Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Farm Labor Stories Making the News This Week
The agricultural labor shortage is strong enough that the consumer press is beginning to report on it regularly. Here are the stories making headlines this month. Read More
farm hacks collage
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Florida Grower Magazine is Seeking Your Farm Hacks
Life hacks are common in social media threads these days. They are those clever ideas or tricks aimed at making Read More
Rain drops on leaf
Citrus
July 14, 2017
Everglades Agricultural Area Farmers Winning at Water Quality
Annual report shows use of best management practices results in another massive reduction in phosphorus flow. Read More
Citrus
July 13, 2017
The Road is Long to Farm Bill 2018 [Opinion]
Participation in this process will be crucial to ensure your needs are understood and addressed. Read More
2015 FFVA Annual Convention crowd
Citrus
July 13, 2017
Trade Talk to Top Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association Convention Agenda
Trade issues are top of mind these days for specialty crop producers. Efforts have been underway since early this year Read More
Citrus
July 12, 2017
Shaky Florida Citrus Season Skids to a Stop
Final USDA tally confirms continuing downward trend of production in the HLB era. Read More
Smaller John Deere tractor for use in citrus screenhouse
Citrus Achievement Award
July 12, 2017
Encourage New Citrus Growth by Getting Back to Basics
2017 Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award winner Ed Pines says producing crops under protective screen is a way to farm more and stress less. Read More
Beet-armyworms-on-a-tomato-plant
Citrus
July 12, 2017
Tomato Pests Can Be Induced to Cannibalism, New Study Shows
The University of Wisconsin's John Orrock says when beet armyworms are exposed to concentrations of methyl jasmonate, they will abandon eating tomatoes — and start eating one another. Read More
Citrus
July 12, 2017
USDA Pulls 8 Products from Approved Organic Production List
After a few months of speculation, the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has published its Sunset 2017 final rule on approved products for organic production and handling. Read More
Drone-aided photo of Ed Pines' CUPS
Varieties & Rootstocks
July 11, 2017
Florida Citrus Growers Going Inside to Think Outside the Box
Producing fruit under protective screen is developing into a viable option for sustaining the Sunshine State’s signature crop. Read More
Carl and Dustin Grooms of Fancy Farms
Business Planning
July 11, 2017
Young Florida Farmers Ready to Take the Reins
As growers age, the next generation is stepping up and stepping into leadership roles on the farm. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
July 26, 2017
Despite Controversy, Most Major Ag Group…
Most of the major agricultural associations are coming out in support of President Donald Trump’s nomination of Sam Clovis to Read More
Citrus
July 26, 2017
If We Want American Farm Workers, We Hav…
Now is the time to lobby for ways to attract American labor. One idea? Offer college tuition and student loan forgiveness in exchange for farm work. Read More
Citrus
July 23, 2017
USDA Invests $7.6 Million toward Benefic…
Projects to promote beneficial organisms as part of a pest control strategy. Read More
Citrus
July 22, 2017
Representative from Washington Proposes …
Move broadens use of H-2A to all of agriculture to include those with multiple crops and harvests. Read More
Citrus
July 20, 2017
Atlantic Hurricane Forecast Taken Up a N…
Current conditions in the tropics warrant marked revision in potential storm season scenarios. Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Researchers On a Mission to Find More Pl…
Federal grant to aid exploration of food security solutions for the future. Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Farm Labor Stories Making the News This …
The agricultural labor shortage is strong enough that the consumer press is beginning to report on it regularly. Here are the stories making headlines this month. Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2017
Florida Grower Magazine is Seeking Your …
Life hacks are common in social media threads these days. They are those clever ideas or tricks aimed at making Read More
Citrus
July 14, 2017
Everglades Agricultural Area Farmers Win…
Annual report shows use of best management practices results in another massive reduction in phosphorus flow. Read More
Citrus
July 13, 2017
The Road is Long to Farm Bill 2018 [Opin…
Participation in this process will be crucial to ensure your needs are understood and addressed. Read More
Citrus
July 13, 2017
Trade Talk to Top Florida Fruit & Ve…
Trade issues are top of mind these days for specialty crop producers. Efforts have been underway since early this year Read More
Citrus
July 12, 2017
Shaky Florida Citrus Season Skids to a S…
Final USDA tally confirms continuing downward trend of production in the HLB era. Read More
Citrus
July 12, 2017
Tomato Pests Can Be Induced to Cannibali…
The University of Wisconsin's John Orrock says when beet armyworms are exposed to concentrations of methyl jasmonate, they will abandon eating tomatoes — and start eating one another. Read More
Citrus
July 12, 2017
USDA Pulls 8 Products from Approved Orga…
After a few months of speculation, the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has published its Sunset 2017 final rule on approved products for organic production and handling. Read More
Business Planning
July 11, 2017
Young Florida Farmers Ready to Take the …
As growers age, the next generation is stepping up and stepping into leadership roles on the farm. Read More
Citrus
July 10, 2017
Florida Reveals Its Latest Woman of the …
2017 award recipient a true trailblazer and champion for the advancement of the state’s farming industry. Read More
Citrus
July 10, 2017
Practical Solutions Are Bringing Precisi…
Growing the budding ag-tech sector to maturity likely will require a deeper meeting of the minds between technologists and agriculturists. Read More
Business Planning
July 10, 2017
Farming for Online Sales Will Require Gr…
Modern agriculture might not be for everyone, but it’s here to stay. Embrace it. Read More