Opinion: Florida Citrus Growers United In Fight For Survival

Frank GilesI am proud to report that the 2014 Florida Citrus Show was the best in the event’s history. We enjoyed a record-breaking attendance of nearly 800 people and the show was buzzing with activity on the tradeshow floor and education sessions. Everyone was engaged on a level that I’ve not seen before.
What came through loud and clear during the two-day event in late January was the increasing urgency to find solutions to HLB. Not to say the citrus industry hasn’t already been alert to the threat of HLB, but last year’s fruit drop and the current season’s drop and small fruit have heightened awareness.

The Citrus Show hosted more than 25 educational presentations — many on HLB. Talks focused on what can be done now and the promise of future breakthroughs to fight the disease. There’s plenty to talk about and it was evident during the event.
One of the drivers of the Show’s turnout is the hunger growers have for information on HLB and what can be done to keep Florida’s signature crop viable for years to come.
The discussion on the tradeshow floor and in the education hall drove home the gravity of what is before us. I heard on several occasions the dreaded “infrastructure” discussion. If we drop to this many boxes, will we lose a juice plant? What about custom harvesters, equipment dealers, grove care businesses? The list goes on.

I was told by a few folks who are in the know when it comes to HLB and the research efforts now in play, we might have as little as two years to find a solution or set of solutions to HLB. You can see why there was a sense of urgency at the Show and is throughout the industry.
Growers are increasing the pressure on the scientific community to produce results for the millions of dollars being invested in research. Rightly, they have argued we simply don’t have time to wait on typical scientific time lines where absolutely every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed. They need answers and tools to fight this disease now.
It puts our researchers in an uncomfortable position of potentially taking a risk on a hypothesis that may not be fully vetted to their liking. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a scientist say, “These are very preliminary findings. We need more research to get proof of concept.”
Those are wise words in ordinary times. These are not ordinary times. The good news is our researchers realize this and I saw evidence at the Citrus Show they are looking to move faster and get solutions to the grove.

On the flip side, growers must appreciate that if researchers step out on a limb and fail — at least they are trying. I had one grower put it to me this way: “If I get a tool or technique to fight HLB and it doesn’t, I won’t be mad at the researcher. I will be mad because it didn’t work.”
The dire nature evident at the Show has kicked things into an even higher gear. Recent funding of $125 million in the Farm Bill and millions more from growers and other sources are putting serious horsepower behind the race to find answers.

During the Show, we heard about some amazing science at work like antimicrobials that kill the HLB bacteria, RNAi technology that will disrupt the psyllid, and much more. We are getting closer to answers.

Finally, I left the Florida Citrus Show with a sense that this industry is as united as ever to win this war against HLB. Growers, researchers, allied industry, even consumers — we are all in this together.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
vineyard grapes winter snow
Citrus
July 19, 2016
Funds Allocated To Address Impact Of Climate Change On Agriculture
NIFA announces $8.4 for study and development of new approaches to mitigate effects of climate change. Read More
(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Citrus
July 18, 2016
USDA Awards More Than $26 Million For Affordable Farmworker Housing
The funding is to support more than 400 rental units in four states. Read More
Basic tractor on the horizon
Business Planning
July 18, 2016
Financial Fortitude Key For Small Farm Success
Local threats like citrus greening create additional challenges for many of Florida's more modest enterprises. Read More
fanned out 100 dollar bills
Citrus
July 18, 2016
Bayer Ups Bid To Buy Monsanto
Reports indicate new offer at nearly $65 billion. Read More
Florida Department of Citrus marketing video screenshot featuring Aaron Himrod and his wife Kristi
Citrus
July 17, 2016
Millennial Moms, Florida Orange Juice A Good Mix
Learn what new marketing strategies are being employed by the Florida Department of Citrus to reach this vital consumer segment. Read More
Citrus variety development white board illustration
Varieties & Rootstocks
July 16, 2016
For Citrus Variety Development, The Drawing Board Is Full
Progress apparent in pipeline of promising sponsored projects. Read More
AGERpoint Inc.'s aerial LiDAR platform drone
Citrus
July 14, 2016
Look Up! Farming’s Future Is Coming In For A Landing [Opinion]
FAA's recent ruling regarding unmanned aircraft systems is good news for business. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
July 21, 2016
Farm Labor Delays Taking Toll On Crops […
When it comes down to it, we have a choice to make. We either have to import our labor, or we'll have to import our food. Read More
Citrus
July 20, 2016
My First Trip To Cuba Proves Fruitful
The five-day journey was enlightening, providing participants with a better perspective of the state of agriculture in this country 90 miles off Florida’s coast. Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2016
Funds Allocated To Address Impact Of Cli…
NIFA announces $8.4 for study and development of new approaches to mitigate effects of climate change. Read More
Citrus
July 18, 2016
USDA Awards More Than $26 Million For Af…
The funding is to support more than 400 rental units in four states. Read More
Business Planning
July 18, 2016
Financial Fortitude Key For Small Farm S…
Local threats like citrus greening create additional challenges for many of Florida's more modest enterprises. Read More
Citrus
July 18, 2016
Bayer Ups Bid To Buy Monsanto
Reports indicate new offer at nearly $65 billion. Read More
Citrus
July 17, 2016
Millennial Moms, Florida Orange Juice A …
Learn what new marketing strategies are being employed by the Florida Department of Citrus to reach this vital consumer segment. Read More
Citrus
July 14, 2016
Look Up! Farming’s Future Is Comin…
FAA's recent ruling regarding unmanned aircraft systems is good news for business. Read More
Citrus
July 13, 2016
Farm Credit Celebrates 100 Years Of Serv…
Lending institution plays a critical role in sustaining Florida agriculture. Read More
Citrus
July 12, 2016
Florida Citrus Season Ends On Up Note
Challenging campaign typified by forecasts influenced by the negative impacts of HLB. Read More
Citrus
July 8, 2016
Yara Seeking To Make Splash With New Wat…
Unique plant-based sensor technology is being tested in California and Florida citrus groves. Read More
Citrus
July 6, 2016
Algal Bloom Crisis Forcing Florida Farme…
With state of emergency actions underway, growers and industry stakeholders are having to face, respond to critics. Read More
Citrus
July 5, 2016
At Least $4.1 Million Lost In South Flor…
UF/IFAS researchers take optimistic route, say damage from last summer’s invasive pest onslaught could have been much worse. Read More
Citrus
July 5, 2016
Citrus, Pistachio Researchers Named Firs…
Extension advisors named University of California Cooperative Extension Presidential Chairs to study pistachio production systems. Read More
Citrus
July 4, 2016
Politicians Often Seek To Leave Legacy […
Keep a close eye on what is happening at all levels of government; it’s time for all hands on deck to protect the value of agriculture in society. Read More
Citrus
June 28, 2016
Panama Canal Expands For New Trade Oppor…
First vessel passes through new, larger locks as country celebrates. Read More
Citrus
June 24, 2016
Is It EPA’s Intention To Help Or H…
A common theme I see in complaints about the government agency is it appears to be taking action more and more based on ideology and public opinion rather than sound science. Read More
Citrus
June 23, 2016
Survey: Consumers Hungry For More Info O…
University of Florida researchers find learning opportunity among poll results regarding genetically modified foods. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]