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
GrapesWashington Winegrape Harvest Earlier Than Ever
September 3, 2015
  This year’s juice and winegrape harvest in Washington is historic. Michelle Moyer, Washington State University assistant professor, Dept. of Read More
FruitsBeaudry, Watkins, And Davenport Named Fellows Of American Society for Horticultural Science
September 3, 2015
Randolph Beaudry of Michigan State University (MSU), Joan Davenport of Washington State University (WSU), and Christopher Watkins of Cornell University Read More
GrapesWildfires Raise Fears Of Grape Smoke Taint
September 3, 2015
 The current wildfires in Washington have left many growers wondering if smoke taint could impact the flavor of their winegrapes. Read More
FruitsOrganic Industry Unites To “Bust Myths” Throughout September
September 2, 2015
Organic Trade Association members join forces in social media blitz to address misconceptions about organic production. Read More
CitrusResearchers Use Wasps To Protect Citrus Trees From Greening
September 2, 2015
A recent story in the Los Angeles Times highlights some of the new research being conducted in the fight against Read More
Apples & PearsHard Cider Organization Offers Accredited Program
September 1, 2015
United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) introduces Sicera, the first-ever hard Cider Certification Program. This accreditation program is designed Read More
Apples & PearsProducts To Help Prevent Preharvest Drop In Apple Orchards
September 1, 2015
In the latest Extension bulletin from Penn State University, James Schupp associate professor of pomology suggests several products to apply Read More
Apples & PearsMarvin Sundquist Dies At 89
September 1, 2015
Marvin Sundquist, the retired owner of Sundquist Fruit and Cold Storage, died on Aug. 29 at the age of 89, Read More
Apples & PearsSyngenta Receives EPA Registration For Solatenol  Fungicide
September 1, 2015
The fungicide is available in four product offerings, pending state registrations. Read More
Grower Achievement AwardPero Family Farms Is The 2015 Grower Achievement Award Recipient
September 1, 2015
The farm family that runs this Delray Beach-FL based operation develops, produces, packages, and markets its fresh-cut products while continuing to think outside the box. Read More
The Latest
GrapesWashington Winegrape Harvest Earlier Than Ever
September 3, 2015
  This year’s juice and winegrape harvest in Washington is historic. Michelle Moyer, Washington State University assistant professor, Dept. of Read More
FruitsBeaudry, Watkins, And Davenport Named Fellows Of Ameri…
September 3, 2015
Randolph Beaudry of Michigan State University (MSU), Joan Davenport of Washington State University (WSU), and Christopher Watkins of Cornell University Read More
GrapesWildfires Raise Fears Of Grape Smoke Taint
September 3, 2015
 The current wildfires in Washington have left many growers wondering if smoke taint could impact the flavor of their winegrapes. Read More
FruitsOrganic Industry Unites To “Bust Myths” Thr…
September 2, 2015
Organic Trade Association members join forces in social media blitz to address misconceptions about organic production. Read More
CitrusResearchers Use Wasps To Protect Citrus Trees From Gree…
September 2, 2015
A recent story in the Los Angeles Times highlights some of the new research being conducted in the fight against Read More
Apples & PearsHard Cider Organization Offers Accredited Program
September 1, 2015
United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) introduces Sicera, the first-ever hard Cider Certification Program. This accreditation program is designed Read More
Apples & PearsProducts To Help Prevent Preharvest Drop In Apple Orcha…
September 1, 2015
In the latest Extension bulletin from Penn State University, James Schupp associate professor of pomology suggests several products to apply Read More
Apples & PearsMarvin Sundquist Dies At 89
September 1, 2015
Marvin Sundquist, the retired owner of Sundquist Fruit and Cold Storage, died on Aug. 29 at the age of 89, Read More
Apples & PearsSyngenta Receives EPA Registration For Solatenol  Fungi…
September 1, 2015
The fungicide is available in four product offerings, pending state registrations. Read More
Grower Achievement AwardPero Family Farms Is The 2015 Grower Achievement Award …
September 1, 2015
The farm family that runs this Delray Beach-FL based operation develops, produces, packages, and markets its fresh-cut products while continuing to think outside the box. Read More
Dennis P. Broadaway
CitrusFlorida Citrus Packers Bestows Association’s Highest Ho…
September 1, 2015
For his dedication to the Sunshine State’s fresh citrus sector, Dennis Broadaway receives John T. Lesley Award for Excellence. Read More
Citrus Achievement AwardSaving Citrus A Perpetual Task
September 1, 2015
Orie Lee, the 2015 Citrus Achievement Award winner, talks about how growing citrus has changed in his lifetime and how it hasn't. Read More
Florida Ag Expo10th Annual Florida Ag Expo Field Tours To Tackle Produ…
September 1, 2015
There will be plenty to see and learn during the milestone event's exclusive field trials. Read More
Apples & PearsPennsylvania Congressman Supports CIDER Act
August 31, 2015
Freshman Congressman Ryan Costello (PA-06) spent a recent afternoon at Frecon Farms in Boyertown, PA, to tout the CIDER Act, Read More
Oriental Fruit fly
CitrusExotic Fruit Flies Invade South Florida
August 31, 2015
Efforts are under way to eradicate pest that attacks more than 230 different fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Read More
Business PlanningBe Food Safety Recall-Ready [Opinion]
August 31, 2015
No one ever wants to make someone sick after consuming fresh produce, but in spite of the protocols in place, recallls happen and you must be prepared. Read More
Crop ProtectionSustainable Options For Controlling Brown Marmorated St…
August 31, 2015
A researcher from Rutgers University offers pointers to help you control this pest of fruits and vegetables. Read More
CitrusNominations Open For Next Class Of Florida Citrus Hall …
August 31, 2015
Inductees to be honored during the 54th annual Citrus Celebration Luncheon. Read More