Short on Water, Florida Growers Know How to Dig Down Deep

Burn ban sign posted along S.R. A1A in Flagler County, FL, due to drought conditions
How dry is it around Florida? Burn ban signs like this one seen along S.R. A1A in Flagler County are common.
Photo by Paul Rusnak

Central Florida is withering — literally. As I post this, the region is experiencing a dastardly dry spell. The tally in the rainfall gauge for the month of April in Orlando tapped out at zero. None. Zip. Nada. The finale to the dry season was nothing less than excessive. Along with the record-breaking stats, has come acre-eating brush fires, burn bans, and widespread water shortage warnings.

The last time the Sunshine State was this much of a tinder box was nearly 20 years ago.

But through the flames, it’s plain to see you growers have been doing your part to conserve and preserve one of our most precious resources. And while you were at it, you still managed to provide your crops with enough sustenance to survive.

What kind of impact is the current drought having on your farm?

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That kind of feat is not easily achieved. A lot has changed over the course of two decades, and let’s be grateful for that. Research is more thorough, technology is more advanced, equipment is more precise, and it seems more of you are aware of and willing to curb consumptive tendencies. And good thing, as the pressure is on from outside forces, now more than ever.

All Wet Either Way

Thinking back to nearly one year ago, headlines spewing reports of massive blue-green algal blooms were starting to clog the airwaves and inboxes worldwide. Excessive rainfall and nutrient management were under the microscope with farmers taking the brunt of the green sludge scrutiny. Of course, we all know there was much more to that story.

But wow. What a difference a year makes. No rain, no algal blooms, no problems with the public, right? Ha. If anything, the heat can get turned up even more when golf courses can’t water their greens, but we can. We feel the heat when it’s cold, too, especially when sinkholes start opening up. Plain and simple, it’s a matter of understanding and common sense. There are numerous examples of how BMPs are saving water and ways of life on the farm and well beyond the gate.

Achieving is Believing

Soon to be gracing the June 2017 cover of Florida Grower® magazine will be Ed Pines, our latest Citrus Achievement AwardSM winner. If he looks familiar, you’re not imagining things. Pines also was Florida Grower’s January issue cover story subject. The more you read and learn about Pines, you’ll realize why we featured someone twice in such a short period of time. Of course, it was mostly out of our hands as Pines’ peers nominated him for the honor.

We knew Pines has been setting new standards when it comes to producing citrus under cover. Something new we learned from this go-round revolves around Pines’ water-saving prowess. Out of the amount of water he is permitted to pump per year, to date, Pines has only used a small fraction. That alone is award-worthy.

Cheers to Pines for his honor, it’s well-deserved. And cheers to all of you out there who are reaching down deep to rise above the challenges that Mother Nature — and people — can throw at you. Those that continue to do your duty will be standing that much taller when all the smoke clears.

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