In Focus: Phil Rucks

In Focus: Phil Rucks

1. Are growers planting more trees in the face of greening? 
Rucks: “This year, growers seem to be more optimistic in planting trees either for resets or solid plantings due to the recent information we have available in controlling the Asian citrus psyllid. I personally have encouraged growers to replant due to the fact they lose up to 1% to 2% per year from other tree-killing issues, such as citrus blight, phytophthora, freeze damage, flood damage, etc. They’ve been so focused on greening that the other tree losses have caught up with them in affecting their bottom line on returns per acre in production. In addition, all nursery growers, including myself, experienced a delay in planting this spring due to the unusual cold winter. Growers were still evaluating tree recovery and loss up until this summer, which resulted in a delay.”

2. What varieties and rootstocks seem to be of most interest to growers right now and why?
Rucks: “According to the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Citrus and Budwood Registration, the sweet orange (juice) varieties, Hamlin, Mid-Sweet, and Valencia, represent 73% of all nursery propagations grown in Florida. This comes as no surprise since the Florida citrus industry is more than 90% geared toward juice processing. The Swingle Citrumelo rootstock (45%) and the Kuharske Carrizo rootstock (31%) are the most propagated varieties representing 76% of all rootstocks grown. This is due to the majority of Florida’s soil types and a combination of sweet orange varieties are being most compatible. However, some growing regions, such as the Indian River or Gulf, require other more suitable rootstocks besides Swingle, Kuharske, or Carrizo.”

3. Are you seeing interest in some of the new varieties? Is so, which ones?
Rucks: “The Florida citrus industry recognizes it has to change to better variety selections to be competitive in the ever-changing domestic and global market. The New Varieties Development & Management Corp. (NVDMC) was originally formed by the Florida Citrus Packers (2005) and later the Department of Citrus (DOC) awarded a contract to fund new variety selections for the Florida citrus growers (fresh and processed). Recently, the NVDMC has released two promising varieties, one for processing, the Valquarius [see more on page 37], and the Sugar Belle for fresh packing. Another selection available from USDA, the Early Pride, has great fresh fruit appeal. The NVDMC has even brought in a very popular California easy peel seedless mandarin with great attributes for Florida’s fresh fruit market. I’m very optimistic for the Florida citrus industry in having many more varieties for the future.”

4. Has the nursery industry caught up with demand after the void left in the wake of canker eradication?
Rucks:
“Unfortunately, the Florida citrus industry lost more than 100,000 acres of citrus that will never be fully replaced. Realistically, we have probably gained back half of what we lost to citrus canker. This year, the citrus nursery tree supply has caught up with the citrus canker void from the past five years.”

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
orange juice in a glass
Citrus
October 20, 2017
Is Your Orange Juice Glass Half Empty or Half Full?
There is strong-willed — some might even say stubborn — blood flowing through the veins of Florida growers. Read More
Events
October 20, 2017
Agriculture’s Big Data is Coming to You [Opinion]
It’s an opportunity to fine-tune your operation and maximize profits, but it also brings obligations. Read More
Blue Heron Nurseries greenhouses post-Irma
Varieties & Rootstocks
October 20, 2017
Taking Stock of Florida Citrus After the Storm
Extraordinary times call for industrywide cooperation and partnerships. Read More
Citrus stew courtesy of Irma
Citrus
October 19, 2017
Disaster Relief: Ways Florida Growers Can Find Farm Aid
With billions of dollars lost to Irma, financial assistance will be crucial for many. Read More
Fruits
October 19, 2017
New Online Tool Helps Growers Determine Need for Groundwater Recharge
California Land Use Viewer can help growers determine if they can adopt groundwater recharge practices on their own operations. Read More
subirrigation implementation
Irrigation
October 19, 2017
Northeast Florida Farmers Stepping up to Save Water
Green light given to nine agricultural projects steeped in stewardship. Read More
Vegetables
October 18, 2017
The 2018 State of the Vegetable Industry Survey Is Now Open!
How has this year performed for you? Share how things have gone this year – and your expectations for 2018 – in our shorter, more focused survey. Read More
Citrus
October 18, 2017
How to Keep Track of Climate Change
Use cool tools to find out how your production methods may change in the future, how much your area is at risk, and how to limit your own impact on the climate. Read More
Vegetables
October 18, 2017
Stop Viewing Fellow Growers as the Enemy [Opinion]
Instead, growers should focus on issues that benefit everyone, from gaining a stronger voice when negotiating with retailers, to finding a way to share ideas and costs on precision agriculture tools. Read More
Citrus
October 17, 2017
USDA Issues Disaster Declaration for Hurricane-Stricken Florida Farmers
Operators in designated counties eligible for emergency assistance. Read More
Fruits
October 17, 2017
Hirst Named American Society of Horticultural Science Fellow
Honor was presented during society’s annual meeting. Read More
Crop Protection
October 17, 2017
EPA Takes Steps to Reduce Risk of Drift-Related Herbicide Injury
With reports of dicamba injuries in tomatoes, peaches, grapes, and other crops, the agency works to reduce the impact of spray drift on vulnerable crops. Read More
Fruits
October 16, 2017
New Broad-Spectrum Herbicide Released by Nufarm
Grapple herbicide works on pre- and post-emergent weeds in orchards and vineyards. Read More
Flooded peach and grape groves from Irma at UF/IFAS HAEC
Citrus
October 16, 2017
Wrath of Hurricane Irma’s Rainfall Measured by the Trillions
Report says storm dropped enough gallons of water on Florida’s St. Johns River Water Management District to swamp 6.7 million football fields. Read More
Checking hop cones at UF/IFAS MREC
Fruits
October 14, 2017
USDA Seeks Applications for Next Round of Specialty Crop Research Grants
SCRI grants to total $48 million for 2018 fiscal year. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
October 20, 2017
Is Your Orange Juice Glass Half Empty or…
There is strong-willed — some might even say stubborn — blood flowing through the veins of Florida growers. Read More
Events
October 20, 2017
Agriculture’s Big Data is Coming t…
It’s an opportunity to fine-tune your operation and maximize profits, but it also brings obligations. Read More
Varieties & Rootstocks
October 20, 2017
Taking Stock of Florida Citrus After the…
Extraordinary times call for industrywide cooperation and partnerships. Read More
Citrus
October 19, 2017
Disaster Relief: Ways Florida Growers Ca…
With billions of dollars lost to Irma, financial assistance will be crucial for many. Read More
Fruits
October 19, 2017
New Online Tool Helps Growers Determine …
California Land Use Viewer can help growers determine if they can adopt groundwater recharge practices on their own operations. Read More
Irrigation
October 19, 2017
Northeast Florida Farmers Stepping up to…
Green light given to nine agricultural projects steeped in stewardship. Read More
Vegetables
October 18, 2017
The 2018 State of the Vegetable Industry…
How has this year performed for you? Share how things have gone this year – and your expectations for 2018 – in our shorter, more focused survey. Read More
Citrus
October 18, 2017
How to Keep Track of Climate Change
Use cool tools to find out how your production methods may change in the future, how much your area is at risk, and how to limit your own impact on the climate. Read More
Vegetables
October 18, 2017
Stop Viewing Fellow Growers as the Enemy…
Instead, growers should focus on issues that benefit everyone, from gaining a stronger voice when negotiating with retailers, to finding a way to share ideas and costs on precision agriculture tools. Read More
Citrus
October 17, 2017
USDA Issues Disaster Declaration for Hur…
Operators in designated counties eligible for emergency assistance. Read More
Fruits
October 17, 2017
Hirst Named American Society of Horticul…
Honor was presented during society’s annual meeting. Read More
Crop Protection
October 17, 2017
EPA Takes Steps to Reduce Risk of Drift-…
With reports of dicamba injuries in tomatoes, peaches, grapes, and other crops, the agency works to reduce the impact of spray drift on vulnerable crops. Read More
Fruits
October 16, 2017
New Broad-Spectrum Herbicide Released by…
Grapple herbicide works on pre- and post-emergent weeds in orchards and vineyards. Read More
Citrus
October 16, 2017
Wrath of Hurricane Irma’s Rainfall…
Report says storm dropped enough gallons of water on Florida’s St. Johns River Water Management District to swamp 6.7 million football fields. Read More
Fruits
October 14, 2017
USDA Seeks Applications for Next Round o…
SCRI grants to total $48 million for 2018 fiscal year. Read More
Grapes
October 13, 2017
Fairgrounds Host California Fire Evacuee…
Gallo will contribute $1 million to fire recovery effort and will match employee donations two-for-one. Read More
Citrus
October 12, 2017
Irma Rains Down on Florida Citrus Crop E…
Initial USDA forecast reflects the fruits of what was left behind by monster storm. Read More
Grapes
October 10, 2017
Wildfires Hit California Wine Country
California Gov. Jerry Brown declares state of emergency for northern counties impacted by flames. Read More