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

CucurbitsFight Phytophthora Blight Of Cucurbits
October 25, 2014
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this disease. Read More
Varieties & RootstocksPlaying The Citrus Rootstock Market Has Risks And Rewards
October 24, 2014
Experimental material forcing producers to roll the dice. Read More
GrapesNorthern Grapes Project Receives $2.6 Million USDA Grant
October 24, 2014
Funds will help complete final two years of multistate effort. Read More
VegetablesEnza Zaden Field Day Highlights 25 Vegetable Varieties [Slideshow]
October 24, 2014
Seed breeder Enza Zaden hosted its 2014 variety showcase September 25th at the company’s research station in San Juan Bautista, California, with 250 Read More
Disease ControlWashington Concord Grape Growers Wrestle With Blackleaf
October 23, 2014
Physiological disorder manifested due to unusually hot and sunny summer. Read More
More Vegetables7 Green Bean Varieties Geared For Florida Growers
October 23, 2014
Leading vegetable seed companies highlight several high-performance selections for producers in the Sunshine State. Read More
MarketingTomato Survey Tracks Consumer Trends
October 23, 2014
Results indicate how labeling matters in purchasing decisions. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Growers Get Box Tax Relief
October 23, 2014
Citrus Commission votes to put dollars back in producers’ hands to spur reinvestment. Read More
Farm ManagementBill Gates Uploading Lots Of Florida Farmland
October 22, 2014
Recent acquisition for the Microsoft icon involves more than 4,500 acres for nearly $28 million. Read More
GenNext GrowersRegister Now For The GenNext Growers Webcast
October 22, 2014
In the first installment of the GenNext Webcast Series, you will learn how to engage with lawmakers and ag associations to help shape a better future for your business and for agriculture. Read More

The Latest

CucurbitsFight Phytophthora Blight Of Cucurbits
October 25, 2014
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this disease. Read More
Varieties & RootstocksPlaying The Citrus Rootstock Market Has Risks And Rewar…
October 24, 2014
Experimental material forcing producers to roll the dice. Read More
GrapesNorthern Grapes Project Receives $2.6 Million USDA Gran…
October 24, 2014
Funds will help complete final two years of multistate effort. Read More
VegetablesEnza Zaden Field Day Highlights 25 Vegetable Varieties …
October 24, 2014
Seed breeder Enza Zaden hosted its 2014 variety showcase September 25th at the company’s research station in San Juan Bautista, California, with 250 Read More
Disease ControlWashington Concord Grape Growers Wrestle With Blackleaf
October 23, 2014
Physiological disorder manifested due to unusually hot and sunny summer. Read More
More Vegetables7 Green Bean Varieties Geared For Florida Growers
October 23, 2014
Leading vegetable seed companies highlight several high-performance selections for producers in the Sunshine State. Read More
MarketingTomato Survey Tracks Consumer Trends
October 23, 2014
Results indicate how labeling matters in purchasing decisions. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Growers Get Box Tax Relief
October 23, 2014
Citrus Commission votes to put dollars back in producers’ hands to spur reinvestment. Read More
Farm ManagementBill Gates Uploading Lots Of Florida Farmland
October 22, 2014
Recent acquisition for the Microsoft icon involves more than 4,500 acres for nearly $28 million. Read More
GenNext GrowersRegister Now For The GenNext Growers Webcast
October 22, 2014
In the first installment of the GenNext Webcast Series, you will learn how to engage with lawmakers and ag associations to help shape a better future for your business and for agriculture. Read More
FruitsAnnual Santa Maria Strawberry Meeting Approaching
October 22, 2014
The meeting will focus on IPM practices, weed management, updates on fumigation, and more. Read More
Apples & PearsUSApple’s AppletizeMe Personality Quiz Help Consumers…
October 22, 2014
Award-winning national apple month campaign returns with more featured varieties and informative videos. Read More
Farm ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million To Stimulate Research And Devel…
October 22, 2014
The grants will provide resources to help small operations create breakthroughs, says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read More
CitrusEPA Launches Program To Reduce Pesticide Drift
October 22, 2014
The voluntary star-rating program aims to protect people, wildlife and the environment. Read More
CitrusMcCrometer Introduces New Ag Management Mobile App
October 22, 2014
The app displays data on weather, ET, soil moisture, water flow, and more. Read More
Apples & PearsNew York Apple Growers Partner With Grocer To Introduce…
October 22, 2014
First apples of this new variety to hit Wegmans stores as part of a marketing effort. Read More
CitrusAgriculture, Interior Departments Partner To Measure Co…
October 22, 2014
Goal is to provide science-based information for watershed wellness. Read More
Stone FruitIntroducing A Gem Of A Peach For Central Florida
October 22, 2014
The newest variety to come from the UF Stone Fruit Breeding Program is another “gem,” UFGem! This peach variety is Read More