It’s Time To Invest In Florida Citrus

Think about it: Just seven years ago, the Florida citrus industry produced 242 million boxes of oranges. This season, our industry will grow about 142 million boxes. That’s a 41% decrease in less than a decade. As most of us know, the vast majority of the decline was caused by weather, disease, and development.

Although U.S. OJ consumption has decreased steadily over the same period, we still need significant production. The U.S. is a net importer of OJ and as such Brazilian processors are filling the widening gap between what Florida growers can produce and what U.S. consumers drink.
Consequently, I’ve had many discussions with various industry experts (both economists and growers) and I believe now is the time to invest in Florida citrus. This would have been a curious statement a few years ago when HLB first appeared and scared the living daylights out of our industry. Believe me, HLB is still an insidious threat, but many growers now feel they have the tools to keep the psyllid at bay, especially through coordinated sprays. Plus, the industry is optimistic that nutritional therapies could save the trees we have in the ground until a long-term solution emerges through our multi-million dollar research effort.

Harvesting Opportunity

High fruit prices nearing $2.25 a pound are certainly buoying the spirits of Florida growers and fueling this interest in re-planting. True, production costs are sky high but growers are still banking modest profits that allow them to re-invest or buy more groves. Although prices will surely adjust, as they always do, I believe they can serve as a springboard to get more investors to look hard at citrus. We need more trees.
 
The state’s 150,000 acres of abandoned groves, which are typically discounted in price depending on land values and location, create intriguing utilization possibilities. They may require larger initial capital investment with re-planting, but can allow the grower to capitalize on the newest crop management techniques, like high-density planting, and enjoy modest growth in value of Florida farmland.
 
Underlying the investment in agricultural lands is the potential increase in Florida land values. Agriculture land prices in our state declined 40% to 55% during the period 2006-2009 and at some point those numbers will rebound. In addition, state infrastructure investments (logistics, port facilities, etc.) as well as favorable government policies designed to create jobs also should enhance land values in the future.

Counting On Consumption

I understand any investment carries a risk and Florida citrus is no different. We not only have to understand the dynamics of the supply side, but we also have to rectify the demand side. Somehow — and this is open to a lot of debate — we must get people to drink more OJ. The slide in per capita consumption has to stop or this conversation is a moot issue.
Despite the unknowns, it sure is nice to talk about investing in the future of our industry. The Florida citrus grower is resilient and we plan to be here for a long time.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Food Safety Modernization Act moving at snail's pace
Food Safety
February 21, 2017
Food Safety Modernization Act Creeping Forward
Massive regulatory overhaul unfolds as the specialty crop industry hopes to ensure common-sense food safety rules and inspection. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 21, 2017
Snow Doesn’t Stop Day 1 of IFTA Conference
While the Wenatchee, WA, area has experienced higher-than expected snowfall, tour-goers trudge on to learn the latest about advanced production systems and high-value apple varieties. Read More
Grapes
February 18, 2017
Sustainability Is a Growing Factor in Wine Purchasing
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance updates certification program, shows sustainability is important part of wine trade. Read More
citrus psyllid closeup
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
IMPAC.org screenshot
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Farmers Win Over Consumers
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Grapes
February 17, 2017
Washington Organization Rebrands Itself
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers unveils new identity at convention, now known as Washington Winegrowers Association. Read More
Registration area at the 2017 Florida Blueberry Growers Association Spring Meeting
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a Comeback
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Agras MG-1 agriculture drone
Equipment
February 17, 2017
Wanted: Tech Innovators for Drone Challenge
Land O'Lakes Prize offers up $150,000 to help make drones more useable for farmers Read More
Fruits
February 17, 2017
Are Drones the Future of Pollination?
Researchers in Japan have turned drones into robot bees as artificial pollinators. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Start-Up Hort Tech Companies Honored
Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology Scholarships promote sustainability. Read More
The Latest
Food Safety
February 21, 2017
Food Safety Modernization Act Creeping F…
Massive regulatory overhaul unfolds as the specialty crop industry hopes to ensure common-sense food safety rules and inspection. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 21, 2017
Snow Doesn’t Stop Day 1 of IFTA Conferen…
While the Wenatchee, WA, area has experienced higher-than expected snowfall, tour-goers trudge on to learn the latest about advanced production systems and high-value apple varieties. Read More
Grapes
February 18, 2017
Sustainability Is a Growing Factor in Wi…
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance updates certification program, shows sustainability is important part of wine trade. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Far…
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Grapes
February 17, 2017
Washington Organization Rebrands Itself
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers unveils new identity at convention, now known as Washington Winegrowers Association. Read More
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a …
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Equipment
February 17, 2017
Wanted: Tech Innovators for Drone Challe…
Land O'Lakes Prize offers up $150,000 to help make drones more useable for farmers Read More
Fruits
February 17, 2017
Are Drones the Future of Pollination?
Researchers in Japan have turned drones into robot bees as artificial pollinators. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Start-Up Hort Tech Companies Honor…
Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology Scholarships promote sustainability. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Farmer Success Act Reintroduced to…
Bill to add young growers to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Read More
Fruits
February 16, 2017
New App Helps Fruit Growers Calculate Ch…
App helps growers calculate chill hours based on locations and models and assess physiological needs of fruit crops. Read More
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities…
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
Vegetables
February 15, 2017
Tanimura & Antle Will Now Be Partial…
The third-generation farming company takes employee commitment to the next level Read More
Business Planning
February 15, 2017
Are Retailers Your New Competition?
Target will be following a trend that is already under way in Germany and China: offering shoppers greens that are grown right there in the store. Read More
Citrus
February 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Community Loses Longtime …
John Merritt, known as an innovative grower and staunch industry advocate, was 60. Read More
Farm Management
February 14, 2017
Californians Holding Breath as More Stor…
Nearly 200,000 people evacuated below nation’s tallest dam; even growers have had enough for now. Read More
Stone Fruit
February 14, 2017
Georgia Peach Growers Brace for Low Chil…
Last year trees netted almost 700 chill hours; however, Extension agent expects that figure to drop to 600 hours this year. Read More