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

Insect & Disease UpdateCalifornia OKs Asian Citrus Psyllid Insecticide
November 26, 2014
Agriphar Crop Solutions’ Micromite 80WGS is also effective on several other citrus pests. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCitrus Survey: New Management Techniques Trending
November 25, 2014
Growers widen their tactical approach to survive HLB. Read More
CitrusReasons Aplenty Florida Growers Should Feel Good Going Into 2015 [Opinion]
November 24, 2014
Thanks to recent industry achievements, the next 12-month period is shaping up to be a year to remember --- fondly. Read More
Varieties & RootstocksHelp On The Way Citrus Growers Can Truly Tap Into
November 24, 2014
Demand for inventory to rise as USDA’s Tree Assistance Program pushes new plantings. Read More
CitrusIndustry Organizations Sound Off On President’s Immigration Plan
November 21, 2014
Agriculture is not given the attention it so sorely deserves when it comes to the immigration debate. Read More
CitrusRamped-Up Predatory Mite Production To Benefit Growers
November 21, 2014
Biologics company Beneficial Insectary now rearing two species in its California facility. Read More
CitrusWomen’s Impact On Agriculture Impressive [Opinion]
November 18, 2014
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the long-term sustainability of farming depends on our youth. Read More

The Latest

CitrusBe Willing To Take A ‘Wild Turkey’ Approach…
November 27, 2014
Editor Frank Giles says Florida Grower will be stepping up to the bully pulpit in 2015 addressing topics that impact the industry the most. Read More
CitrusNew Partnership To Expand ‘Fresh From Florida’ Foot…
November 26, 2014
Latest deal puts exclamation point on successful Asia marketing campaign. Read More
CitrusReasons Aplenty Florida Growers Should Feel Good Going …
November 24, 2014
Thanks to recent industry achievements, the next 12-month period is shaping up to be a year to remember --- fondly. Read More
CitrusIndustry Organizations Sound Off On President’s Immig…
November 21, 2014
Agriculture is not given the attention it so sorely deserves when it comes to the immigration debate. Read More
CitrusRamped-Up Predatory Mite Production To Benefit Growers
November 21, 2014
Biologics company Beneficial Insectary now rearing two species in its California facility. Read More
CitrusWomen’s Impact On Agriculture Impressive [Opinion…
November 18, 2014
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the long-term sustainability of farming depends on our youth. Read More
CitrusPrograms Burgeon To Promote Citrus Plantings
November 17, 2014
Processors and USDA step up to support growers who are putting new trees in the ground. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Forecast Stands Firm Through Season’s …
November 10, 2014
Latest USDA outlook unchanged for oranges and grapefruit. Read More
CitrusForecast: South Florida Dry Season May See Fair Share O…
October 31, 2014
Outlook calls for possible above-normal precipitation around region for fall and winter months. Read More
CitrusUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
The funds will go toward helping growers implement conservation practices to improve honey bee health. Read More
CitrusModern Agriculture Is A True Centerpiece Of Thanksgivin…
October 27, 2014
FFAA's Mary Hartney says take time during this holiday season to give thanks where thanks is due. Read More
CitrusNOAA’s Winter Weather Outlook Runs Hot And Cold
October 27, 2014
Repeat of last year’s extreme cold and snow events east of the Rockies unlikely. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Growers Get Box Tax Relief
October 23, 2014
Citrus Commission votes to put dollars back in producers’ hands to spur reinvestment. Read More
CitrusEPA Launches Program To Reduce Pesticide Drift
October 22, 2014
The voluntary star-rating program aims to protect people, wildlife and the environment. Read More
CitrusMcCrometer Introduces New Ag Management Mobile App
October 22, 2014
The app displays data on weather, ET, soil moisture, water flow, and more. Read More
CitrusAgriculture, Interior Departments Partner To Measure Co…
October 22, 2014
Goal is to provide science-based information for watershed wellness. Read More
CitrusIt’s Time For Young Farming Leaders To Engage [Op…
October 21, 2014
Florida Grower editor Frank Giles says there are capable and talented youths in the ag field ready to step up and take the reins. Read More
CitrusBayer CropScience Launches New Award To Recognize Produ…
October 21, 2014
Award recognizes innovation that enhances the role of produce in creating better lives. Read More