We made it! The end of the world — predicted to happen with the conclusion of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21 — came and went without incident. Phew. Unless you were banking on the fateful date as humanity’s swan song, check again. The world, indeed, did not implode … this time. But, not that today couldn’t be the last. Should we obsess over the possibility? No. Should we have a plan in place in case all hell breaks loose? You betcha.
The last time I waxed poetic about the Rapture, I challenged readers to think outside the box about what he or she would do if they had nothing to lose. For the purpose of this piece, let’s get real.
In recent years, Florida citrus growers — especially since the discovery of HLB — have had to wonder if their world was ending. While it may not be to fire and brimstone scale, the destruction of myriad acreage around the Sunshine State due to pestilence might as well be. For many producers, HLB was the last straw of what was likely a long-lived business. Once fruitful groves cared for by multiple generations now abandoned. Not exactly the postcard of prosperity for the state’s signature crop.
Safe for a long time from the fallout, our citrus-growing friends out in California are now sharing in some of the same dread as two recent citrus psyllid finds in commercial groves have sparked quarantine action. Reality should be sinking in for them that life as they knew it will never be the same. Unfortunately for them, their problems, and the challenges that accompany HLB, are just beginning. Fortunately, there have been plenty of others before them taking the proverbial bullets.
From Doom To Boom
Citrus growers, in general, are a hardy bunch that continues to seek better ways to take on challenges inside and outside their groves. The unofficial theme for the 2013 Florida Citrus Show, according to Barrett Gruber, UF/IFAS citrus Extension scientist and Show program planner, is “No holds barred: Comprehensive production solutions for today’s Florida citrus grower.” By the looks of the program lineup, I’d say that assessment is spot-on.
The local citrus community, with help, is letting it all hang out. The days of hunkering down and hoping the storm will pass are long gone. Research progress has taken huge leaps forward regarding production, crop protection, and new varieties. In turn, all that intel is being applied in the field. The result of all the hard work — the Florida citrus industry is alive and kicking. That is something to be proud of and to celebrate. It’s also a good model to emulate.
At the moment, I’m not aware of any end-of-the-world predictions for 2013. So, in the meantime, grow like there’s no tomorrow.