Opinion: Growers Show Amazing Adaptability

Frank Giles

Growing up in the cotton growing region of Georgia, I witnessed the devastating impact the boll weevil had on growers there for many decades. Through the work of amazing scientists and coordination of USDA, the Boll Weevil Eradication Program dramatically changed the landscape for cotton production in America.

The program came with an assessment fee, and you can imagine like with any change, there were those who resisted and insisted the program wouldn’t work. I began my first season scouting cotton during the first year of the eradication program. I was hard pressed to find any boll weevils the entire growing season where before you would find them on about every plant in every field. In a very real sense, the enormously successful eradication program saved America’s cotton growing industry.
I raise this as an example of how growers learn to adapt and survive in the game of agriculture. Having observed farming all my life, I understand it is not a profession for the faint of heart.

Despite the challenges, growers find ways to innovate to stay ahead of the curve. Just look at their per capita productivity increase over the past half century. Today, on average, an American farmer produces enough to feed 155 people. In 1960, the farmer only fed 26 people.
As you flip the pages of this issue, you’ll see examples of this adaptability in our cover story on Fraleigh Nursery and innovation in a pine tree planter planting citrus.

The ability of growers to recognize that change may be upon them also is illustrated in the insightful article by John VanSickle. In it, he presents the disturbing trend of how U.S. tomato growers are losing market share to greenhouse tomato production from Canada and Mexico. The increasing dominance of greenhouse-produced tomatoes is occurring for a number of reasons, partly because of trade rules and partly because of quality.

Our state’s tomato growers have taken a beating in recent years and many recognize that change is upon them. As is often the case, this change is not easy. Many see they are losing share to the tomatoes grown under cover.
I recall hearing one major tomato grower here in Florida asking the question: “Why is it that in the peak of Florida’s tomato season, the grocery store shelves here are packed with imported tomatoes?”
That is a very good question to raise. Some growers are responding to those concerns by adding greenhouse structures and tunnels to gain a competitive edge. They see open field production as an increasingly risky venture given the whims of weather and markets.

In the history of agriculture, this evolution in markets is not new and it will play out again and again in other markets and crops. It is all about the constant pursuit of producing a quality product. Look at the success being enjoyed by the Tasti-Lee tomato in Publix stores. And, that’s a field-grown tomato. Consumers liken the Tasti-Lee to the ripe and red tomatoes they enjoy fresh out of a home-grown garden.

I believe VanSickle’s final two sentences in his article sum it up best: “They are going to need to examine the products they grow in open field cultivation, or they are going to have to transition even faster to greenhouse production. They cannot rest on the past success and hope to have a solid future.”

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
GAA winner Pero 2015
Farm Management
July 25, 2016
Seven Reasons You Need To Attend The United Fresh Washington Conference
Education sessions and Capitol Hill visits will focus on key issues, such as labor, facing the fresh produce industry. Read More
Photo by Rosemary Gordon
Tomatoes
July 25, 2016
New Research Uncovers Gene That May Be Key To Expanding Tomato Shelflife
Scientists identify a gene that encodes an enzyme which plays a pivotal role in controlling tomato softening. Read More
watermelon field R Gordon
Crop Protection
July 25, 2016
Organic Insect Control Product Available From BioWorks
The mycoinsecticide is EPA registered and controls a variety of insect pests. Read More
Marty McKenna presented with the 2016 Citrus Achievement Award
Citrus Achievement Award
July 25, 2016
Citrus Achievement Award Winner: Adapting To Challenges Has Its Rewards
Marty McKenna says hurdles like HLB forces growers to step up their game, which is a good thing. Read More
Marco Rubio tours a Central Florida citrus grove with industry dignitaries
Insect & Disease Update
July 22, 2016
Marco Rubio Backs Bill To Save Florida Citrus
Senator co-sponsors measure that would provide growers with incentives to plant more trees. Read More
Holly Rippon-Butler
GenNext Growers
July 22, 2016
Farming’s Next Generation Seeking Room To Grow
Several innovative resources are available to help first-time growers acquire the property they need. Read More
Live music woman playing guitar free image FEATURE
Farm Marketing
July 22, 2016
How To Book A Great Band For Your Festivals
Want to add live music to your fall festivals? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to find the right band for the right price. Read More
Valery Cordrey on a radio show
Farm Marketing
July 22, 2016
How To Entice The Local Press To Cover Your Farm Market
Sometimes getting publicity for your business is easier than you think. All you need to do is figure out how Read More
cantaloupe
Cucurbits
July 22, 2016
California Cantaloupe Growers To Celebrate First-Ever “Cantaloupe Week”
The Golden State’s cantaloupes are now in peak production from major areas in the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
The Latest
Farm Management
July 25, 2016
Seven Reasons You Need To Attend The Uni…
Education sessions and Capitol Hill visits will focus on key issues, such as labor, facing the fresh produce industry. Read More
Tomatoes
July 25, 2016
New Research Uncovers Gene That May Be K…
Scientists identify a gene that encodes an enzyme which plays a pivotal role in controlling tomato softening. Read More
Crop Protection
July 25, 2016
Organic Insect Control Product Available…
The mycoinsecticide is EPA registered and controls a variety of insect pests. Read More
Citrus Achievement Award
July 25, 2016
Citrus Achievement Award Winner: Adaptin…
Marty McKenna says hurdles like HLB forces growers to step up their game, which is a good thing. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
July 22, 2016
Marco Rubio Backs Bill To Save Florida C…
Senator co-sponsors measure that would provide growers with incentives to plant more trees. Read More
GenNext Growers
July 22, 2016
Farming’s Next Generation Seeking …
Several innovative resources are available to help first-time growers acquire the property they need. Read More
Farm Marketing
July 22, 2016
How To Book A Great Band For Your Festiv…
Want to add live music to your fall festivals? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to find the right band for the right price. Read More
Farm Marketing
July 22, 2016
How To Entice The Local Press To Cover Y…
Sometimes getting publicity for your business is easier than you think. All you need to do is figure out how Read More
Cucurbits
July 22, 2016
California Cantaloupe Growers To Celebra…
The Golden State’s cantaloupes are now in peak production from major areas in the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
Farm Marketing
July 22, 2016
Find Out Where Growers Want To Sell Thei…
Earlier this year, we asked farm marketers which of their current business channels they would like to increase. Not surprisingly, Read More
Cucurbits
July 21, 2016
Study Shows Buckwheat Can Help Stifle Sq…
Unique cover crop choice attracts beneficial bugs, increasing pollination prospects and reducing insect threats. Read More
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
More Vegetables
July 19, 2016
So You Think You Can Grow Artichokes In …
Field trials are in progress to determine if this highly sought-after superfood can survive the swelter of the Sunshine State. 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
Disease Control
July 19, 2016
Open Your Eyes To Common Smut In Sweet C…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this formidable fungus. Read More
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Early Infection Of Downy Mildew Confirme…
The pathogen has been confirmed in Michigan cucumbers in Bay County for the 2016 season. 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
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]