Strength In Numbers Found At 2014 Florida Citrus Show

Attendees and exhibitors mingle during the 2014 Florida Citrus Show. Photo by Frank Giles

As crises surround the state’s signature crop, growers, packers, and other industry stakeholders seeking solutions showed up in bunches at this year’s Florida Citrus Show held Jan. 29-30 at the Havert L. Fenn Center in Ft. Pierce. The two-day conference and trade show presented by Florida Grower, UF/IFAS, and the Indian River Citrus League welcomed an all-time event record of nearly 800 attendees. “We all are so busy with our own companies, it’s great to go to a well-organized and attended event to network with others and hear the latest news on greening and other industry issues,” said Jerry Newlin, vice president of operations for Orange-Co. “The Show reinforced that our industry is as united as ever in the battle against greening and that we continue to turn over every stone in an attempt to find survival strategies.”

With multiple negative crop forecasts already in the books, and frustration mounting over HLB, the tone has been set for what’s shaping up to be another less-than-idyllic season. Given that, it appears producers especially and researchers alike are fed up with waiting. During his welcome address to attendees, Indian River grower and packer T.P. Kennedy issued a call for action in the fight against HLB. “To go further, we need to challenge our Citrus Research and Development Foundation members on the use of antimicrobials. We need these,” he said. In addition, Kennedy expressed urgency over the industry’s dwindling supply. “We need to put into everyone’s minds about a tree re-plant program.” Referencing the $125 million earmarked for HLB research in the new Farm Bill, Kennedy thinks the time is right to plant that seed.

How would you rate this year's Florida Citrus Show?

  • Excellent (60%, 12 Votes)
  • Good (20%, 4 Votes)
  • Poor (10%, 2 Votes)
  • Did not attend (10%, 2 Votes)
  • Average (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 20

Loading ... Loading ...

Matt Salois, economist with the Florida Department of Citrus, agrees. “We’re selling everything we have, and at higher prices,” he said, which makes the Florida citrus industry unique in its economic conundrum. “This isn’t a demand problem, it’s a supply problem.”

The daunting challenge HLB has presented, along with the plodding progress in finding a cure, make it difficult to justify putting in new acreage. However, the educational sessions, featuring the latest research from UF/IFAS and USDA scientists, did provide some glimmers of hope. Amid several talks geared toward promising sour orange and sour-like rootstocks, Dr. Jude Grosser, UF/IFAS, said, “My goal before I retire is to give you a disease-resistant rootstock.” This statement spurred one audience member to ask: “So, when are you retiring?”


Attendees in the session room seemed to perk up during presentation given by Charles Powell, UF/IFAS, about the antimicrobial treatment of HLB. “There are quite a few molecules that will kill Liberibacter in the greenhouse,” he said. “Future testing [still about one year away] will focus on field application.”

According to Powell, next steps in antimicrobial research include creating more effective delivery systems, developing a time-release formula, and trying to find more molecules.

Some possible HLB solutions might not be that far in the offing. Dr. Wayne Hunter from the USDA lab in Ft. Pierce gave an update on RNAi treatments to disrupt Asian citrus psyllids using a non-transgenic approach. According to Hunter, Monsanto has secured a license to release a plant with the RNAi construct. This, he said, would be helpful in paving the way to commercialize a product to use in the field. “Hopefully, within the next six months, we will have a very strong package for EPA.”

Spike Schultheis, economist with the Small Business Development Center at Indian River State College, said in talking to growers, he finds different degrees of optimism and pessimism. “I don’t think anyone is optimistic about what HLB is doing to us economically,” he said. “We have a lot of great science out there, but what growers really want to know is when (a cure is coming).”

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Strength In Numbers Found At 2014 Florida Citrus Show

  1. Half the people there worked for vendors trying to sell chemical , and or equipment. Some growers were there search ing. For answears . They unfortunately believe whatever there told .
    One sad scientists was suggest ing. Building tents to kill psyillids . This poor man is out of his mind . But I’m sure he spent our money honestly. Everyone continues chasing psyillids .and the worse thing I found was. Monsanto has a new plant that you can grow as long as you buy there chemicals. Replace natural bacteria in the soil ,detoxify the soil and go natural .biological care of groves . I want to enjoy citrus juice. Not Monsanto chemical soup . Good luck growers
    You should all rethink who is running your industry . P.s. spain has no hlb either
    Anti microbial peptides should kill your hlb. Greening causing bacteria . Then replenish with friendly bacteria etc. .

Citrus Stories
Florida citrus packinghouse
CitrusLatest Florida Orange Crop Outlook Puts Brakes On Downward Roll — For Now
April 9, 2015
Updated numbers from USDA reveal count continuing to hover just above the 100 million box mark. Read More
CitrusForecasters Predict Historically Weak Atlantic Hurricane Season
April 9, 2015
Extended range outlook cites El Niño as culprit in what could be one of the least active seasons in recent memory. Read More
One World Challenge Wall
CitrusToday’s Youth Set To Sustain The World [Opinion]
April 9, 2015
A select group of University of Florida students are thinking of innovative ways to meet the challenges of supporting 9+ billion people on Earth by 2050. Read More
Summer Foley, Miss Florida Citrus 2015
Citrus6 Questions With Miss Florida Citrus 2015
April 7, 2015
Pageant's much-anticipated comeback brings with it a breath of fresh air. Read More
non-gmo label leafy greens
CitrusNational Farmers Union Supports Mandatory GMO Labeling
April 3, 2015
Organization calls on Congress for unified standards to bridge several pending labeling proposals. Read More
CitrusRainfall Relief Welcomed Across South Florida
April 3, 2015
Below-average precipitation for the region during March helps lower high water levels from what has been a rather wet Dry Season. Read More
CitrusEPA Says It Is Unlikely To Approve New Neonicotinoid Outdoor Uses
April 3, 2015
The agency is waiting until new bee data has been submitted and pollinator risk assessments are complete. Read More
The Latest
Natalie Parkell and Kevin Osburn of Vertical Horizon Farms
CitrusSmall Family Farms Can Survive [Opinion]
April 17, 2015
It is reassuring amid the corporate climate the agriculture industry has experienced in more recent times that there is still room for the little guy, and — more importantly — a need. Read More
Golden Rice
CitrusMore Social Commentators Changing Their Views On GMO Cr…
April 15, 2015
Could public opinion be swayed by evolving narration on genetic modification? Read More
CitrusFlorida Agriculture Rings Up Record $4.2 Billion In Int…
April 13, 2015
Accomplishment represents third year in a row that Sunshine State exports have topped the $4 billion mark. Read More
Florida citrus packinghouse
CitrusLatest Florida Orange Crop Outlook Puts Brakes On Downw…
April 9, 2015
Updated numbers from USDA reveal count continuing to hover just above the 100 million box mark. Read More
CitrusForecasters Predict Historically Weak Atlantic Hurrican…
April 9, 2015
Extended range outlook cites El Niño as culprit in what could be one of the least active seasons in recent memory. Read More
One World Challenge Wall
CitrusToday’s Youth Set To Sustain The World [Opinion]
April 9, 2015
A select group of University of Florida students are thinking of innovative ways to meet the challenges of supporting 9+ billion people on Earth by 2050. Read More
Summer Foley, Miss Florida Citrus 2015
Citrus6 Questions With Miss Florida Citrus 2015
April 7, 2015
Pageant's much-anticipated comeback brings with it a breath of fresh air. Read More
non-gmo label leafy greens
CitrusNational Farmers Union Supports Mandatory GMO Labeling
April 3, 2015
Organization calls on Congress for unified standards to bridge several pending labeling proposals. Read More
CitrusRainfall Relief Welcomed Across South Florida
April 3, 2015
Below-average precipitation for the region during March helps lower high water levels from what has been a rather wet Dry Season. Read More
CitrusEPA Says It Is Unlikely To Approve New Neonicotinoid Ou…
April 3, 2015
The agency is waiting until new bee data has been submitted and pollinator risk assessments are complete. Read More
FFVA Emerging Leaders Class 4 visits Tallahassee
CitrusMarch On Tallahassee A Fruitful Exercise For Florida…
April 2, 2015
Road trip to the state capital beneficial for Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association's board of directors and Class 4 of its Emerging Leader Development Program. Read More
CitrusCalifornia Snowpack Is Virtually Gone
April 2, 2015
With the lowest water content since 1950, the governor orders first-ever mandatory water reductions in cities and towns, and growers face tighter regulations. Read More
CitrusMake Every Day Ag Day
March 31, 2015
Another National Ag Day came and went on March 18. Did you do anything to promote it this year? Even Read More
Laboratory beakers
CitrusGrowing Demand For Magnesium Nitrate Spurs TradeMark Ni…
March 30, 2015
Via enhancements made to its manufacturing plant, Florida company is able to provide more of its product to various fertilizer distributors and retailers throughout the country. Read More
CitrusProposed Farm Bill Provision To Limit Payments To Non-F…
March 25, 2015
USDA has proposed a new rule which would limit payment to those who are only actively engaged in farming. Read More
Summer Foley gets crowned Miss Florida Citrus 2015 by 2004 winner Nikki Upthegrove Matthews and reigning Miss Florida Vicotria Cowen
CitrusMeet The New Miss Florida Citrus
March 24, 2015
Pageant marks comeback of longstanding industry tradition. Read More
CitrusFarm Bureau Says WOTUS Rule Would Ignore Exemptions
March 24, 2015
Common farming practices may be vulnerable to Clean Water Act enforcement under the rule. Read More
CitrusCalifornia Unveils $1 Billion Drought Package
March 23, 2015
Governor, legislative leaders, announce $1 billion emergency drought legislation. Read More