Roller Coaster Ride Of A Year

Like recent years, the news in 2010 remained focused largely on citrus disease. While greening remains a significant threat to the industry, positive developments have occurred giving rise to hope that the industry can learn to live with the disease. But, that’s only part of the story Florida Grower brought you in the past year.

The Battle Rages On

Citrus greening has been described as one of the most difficult pest/disease complexes ever encountered. It is no wonder the entire citrus industry has put so much emphasis on seeking solutions to this devastating disease. In the past year, all of the work to lay the framework for research into the problem came into sharper focus through the work of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF). The foundation has supported 120 different projects aimed at finding solutions to citrus greening and canker. Its primary function is to facilitate rapid commercialization of any positive developments in the area of greening.
 
Another significant development in the fight against greening occurred in the past year with the report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to the citrus industry on how to address greening and other disease. The NAS provide 23 recommendations in the report aimed at short-term and long-term solutions. The most immediate and No. 1 recommendation from NAS was the establishment of citrus health management areas (CHMAs). In these areas, growers work together to coordinate sprays for psyllid control. These efforts have proven much more effective in reducing psyllid populations than growers simply acting alone. The calls for industry cooperation and establishing CHMAs were a major focus of this year’s Florida Citrus Mutual Conference in Bonita Springs. Since that meeting in June, several efforts are under way to establish CHMAs across the state. To learn more about CHMAs, go to www.crec.ifas.ufl.edu. For more about current and proposed greening research projects, visit the CRDF’s website at www.citrusrdf.org.

H-2A The Right Way

Concerns over labor and immigration enforcement remain high on the lists of many growers’ worries. The H-2A ag worker program can provide peace of mind that workers in the country under this program are here legally. However, many complain the program is too complicated and costly. In August, Florida Grower featured Justin Sorrells and his family’s custom grove care and harvesting business. They have used the program for more than a decade to bring in more than 400 temporary workers from Mexico annually. With years of experience, Sorrells says they have worked out the kinks in the program. He says it is critical to have an accurate recordkeeping system in place to handle the paperwork requirements of the government. Growers using the program must provide housing and transportation for the guestworkers, which is an added expense. But, Sorrells says the benefits of a guaranteed workforce, which is motivated to work hard and return legally to the U.S. in future years, outweighs the program’s downsides.

Focused On Foliar

Florida Grower first reported on Maury Boyd and his grove in Felda in January 2009. The story featured his use of foliar nutrition and systemic acquired resistance materials to extend the productive life of trees infected with citrus greening. Since the story ran, more and more growers and researchers are looking at foliar nutrition as a means of “keeping in the game” until more permanent solutions can be found for greening. In fact, many are learning the benefits of an aggressive foliar program outside of just living with greening. In September, Florida Grower featured Ben Hill Griffin Inc.’s foliar nutrition program on a young block of citrus on U.S. 27. The grove is growing rapidly into production, which is attributed to the company’s own foliar nutrition program.

Battling Black Spot

This year, citrus black spot (CBS) was confirmed in Florida, marking the first identification of the disease in the U.S. The disease creates lesions on fruit and will induce fruit drop in more severe cases. Two quarantine areas have been established in Hendry and Collier counties after CBS was spotted in groves. It is likely more quarantines will follow as the disease becomes established.
 
It is important for growers to be able to identify symptoms of CBS on fruit and learn proper control measures for the disease. In October, Florida Grower hosted a webinar on the disease to provide growers this critical information. Megan Dewdney, plant pathologist and Extension specialist with UF/IFAS, shared her expertise on CBS with webinar attendees. If you missed the live event, it may be viewed on demand at GrowingProduce.com.

Citrus Nursery Source

Always high on a grower’s wish list is new variety options. The good news for growers is a steady flow of new varieties are becoming available over the next couple of years. For that reason, Florida Grower launched a new department this year called Citrus Nursery Source. Peter Chaires, executive director of the New Varieties Development & Management Corp., provides a monthly update on new varieties and their fit in Florida’s citrus industry. This year, the Source has featured exciting new varieties like the Tango, an easy peel, virtually-seedless mid-season mandarin or the much anticipated Valquarius, a mid-season Valencia sweet orange. In the coming year, more exciting new varieties will be introduced with tips on how to get the most from these new selections.

Record Freeze

Last January’s freeze will go down in the history books. Between sinkholes and dry wells, growers and the public will not want to relive the two weeks of sub-freezing temperatures again. While roughly 70% of the winter vegetable crop in Southwest Florida was lost to the freeze, citrus fared pretty well, bouncing back from the frigid temps and producing a good crop. On the plus side, the freeze did help prices for OJ and fresh fruit, giving growers the best returns they’ve seen in a number of years.
 

Water Wars

Water has been a major issue in Florida during the past year. The biggest story in this area has been EPA’s intervention into the state’s affairs by establishing specific nutrient limits in urban and agricultural storm water runoff. In November, EPA announced its final ruling to the dismay of farm groups across the state. Many characterize EPA’s action as all costs with no benefits to the environment. Growers and city water treatment facilities will have 15 months to take the necessary steps to comply with the numeric criteria.
 
The Florida Department of Agriculture conducted a study in conjunction with University of Florida economists that estimates the total initial costs to Florida agriculture to implement all applicable practices under the numeric nutrient criteria will range from $855 million to $3.069 billion. EPA disputes the figure, estimating costs of $135 million to $206 million annually for all parties impacted by the ruling. In the face of these new EPA regulations, growers are encouraged to sign up for Florida’s best management practices as a means to provide proof of compliance.
In addition to nutrient criteria, EPA is considering a requirement for growers to apply for federal permits when making pesticide applications near or over water. According to Don Parish, senior regulatory director for legislative affairs for the American Farm Bureau, literally millions of applications could be impacted by the ruling. “When you consider the number of applications that could be involved and throw in more citizen lawsuits, this is teed up to be a disaster,” he said in a January Florida Grower article on the subject.
 
Legislation has been introduced in Congress that would void the permitting requirement.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Pest Control
March 22, 2017
Fear of GMOs is Impacting Quality Food Research [Opinion]
Perhaps the greatest threat to our industry is a public that values instinctual opinion over careful research and the findings of experts who have dedicated years to their field of study. Read More
Business Planning
March 22, 2017
How HortTech Is Solving Grower Challenges
Dozens of tech companies are looking for solutions to real-world problems vegetable growers face. We take a look at what it could really mean for you and your business. Read More
Production
March 22, 2017
Weighing the Good and Bad of Six Soilless Media Options
Trying to decide which growing media is the right one for your greenhouse vegetable production? Take a look at these six options. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Industry Groups, Ag Leaders React to Proposed USDA, EPA Budget Cuts
New plan would slash USDA spending by 21%. Read More
Freeze protected peach trees in Florida
Cold Protection
March 21, 2017
Freezing Temperatures Hit South Carolina Crops Hard
Peaches, blueberries, and strawberries among crops damaged. Read More
fork digging into a plate full of salad
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Since When Did Eating Get So Complicated? [Opinion]
The bottom line to all this is the way we eat is undergoing massive disruption. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 21, 2017
Two More Lost Apple Varieties Found In Steptoe Butte
Amateur apple detective strikes again with two more finds in abandoned orchards near state park. Read More
Generic produce clamshell packaging
GenNext Growers
March 20, 2017
Packaging: A Powerful Way for Farmers to Reach Consumers
Growers have few opportunities to communicate with end users. Paying mind to what’s on the outside can help sell a lot of what’s inside. Read More
Organic potato grower staring at his crops
Crop Protection
March 20, 2017
Biologicals Gaining Acceptance Among More Growers
Driven by new innovation and consumer demand, growers look to the biocontrol sector for new solutions. Read More
Alternaria leaf and pod spot of snap bean
Disease Control
March 17, 2017
Prevent Alternaria from Putting Your Snap Beans on the Spot
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More
Cranes at the Port Tampa Bay
Farm Management
March 17, 2017
Unfair Trade Taking Its Toll on Florida Farmers
Local grower community hopeful over President Trump’s announced intention to renegotiate NAFTA. Read More
Swadesh Santra of UCF
Citrus
March 16, 2017
UCF Stepping up to Be Farming’s Knight in Shining Armor
Hopes are high that the school's new agriculture research center will help growers solve production issues and feed the globe. Read More
A.H. Whitmore Farm in Leesburg, FL, as seen from Google Earth
Varieties & Rootstocks
March 16, 2017
Experimental Citrus Groves Disappearing in Florida
Challenges to growth expand as vital research is in dire need of a home. Read More
Frozen blueberries
Berries
March 15, 2017
Arctic Blast Gives Southern Fruit Growers the Chills
Peaches and berries in bloom most at risk from freezing temperatures. Read More
GenNext Growers
March 15, 2017
Introducing Technology, Farm Transitions among Topics at IFTA Young Grower Reception
Event brought together the next generation of tree fruit growers and young professionals in the industry. Read More
The Latest
Pest Control
March 22, 2017
Fear of GMOs is Impacting Quality Food R…
Perhaps the greatest threat to our industry is a public that values instinctual opinion over careful research and the findings of experts who have dedicated years to their field of study. Read More
Business Planning
March 22, 2017
How HortTech Is Solving Grower Challenge…
Dozens of tech companies are looking for solutions to real-world problems vegetable growers face. We take a look at what it could really mean for you and your business. Read More
Production
March 22, 2017
Weighing the Good and Bad of Six Soilles…
Trying to decide which growing media is the right one for your greenhouse vegetable production? Take a look at these six options. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Industry Groups, Ag Leaders React to Pro…
New plan would slash USDA spending by 21%. Read More
Cold Protection
March 21, 2017
Freezing Temperatures Hit South Carolina…
Peaches, blueberries, and strawberries among crops damaged. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Since When Did Eating Get So Complicated…
The bottom line to all this is the way we eat is undergoing massive disruption. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 21, 2017
Two More Lost Apple Varieties Found In S…
Amateur apple detective strikes again with two more finds in abandoned orchards near state park. Read More
GenNext Growers
March 20, 2017
Packaging: A Powerful Way for Farmers to…
Growers have few opportunities to communicate with end users. Paying mind to what’s on the outside can help sell a lot of what’s inside. Read More
Crop Protection
March 20, 2017
Biologicals Gaining Acceptance Among Mor…
Driven by new innovation and consumer demand, growers look to the biocontrol sector for new solutions. Read More
Disease Control
March 17, 2017
Prevent Alternaria from Putting Your Sna…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More
Farm Management
March 17, 2017
Unfair Trade Taking Its Toll on Florida …
Local grower community hopeful over President Trump’s announced intention to renegotiate NAFTA. Read More
Citrus
March 16, 2017
UCF Stepping up to Be Farming’s Kn…
Hopes are high that the school's new agriculture research center will help growers solve production issues and feed the globe. Read More
Varieties & Rootstocks
March 16, 2017
Experimental Citrus Groves Disappearing …
Challenges to growth expand as vital research is in dire need of a home. Read More
Berries
March 15, 2017
Arctic Blast Gives Southern Fruit Grower…
Peaches and berries in bloom most at risk from freezing temperatures. Read More
GenNext Growers
March 15, 2017
Introducing Technology, Farm Transitions…
Event brought together the next generation of tree fruit growers and young professionals in the industry. Read More
Citrus
March 15, 2017
Group Wants To Streamline Food Safety Re…
There are 15 federal agencies implement more than 30 different food safety statutes. A team of experts believe they have a solution. Read More
Marketing
March 15, 2017
Florida Peaches Scoring Points with Cons…
Snack-sized fruit presents unique marketing opportunity for growers. Read More
Nuts
March 15, 2017
Efforts to Thwart Nut Thefts Ramping up …
Ordinance revisions to end cash sales, include a 10-day hold on payments. Read More